January 25 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Zahid Mahmood, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
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12:01 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Australia approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman in Brisbane and Sharif Paget in Atlanta  

Australia has granted "provisional approval" for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, making it the country's first coronavirus vaccine to receive regulatory approval, Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said in a statement Monday.

The TGA said the vaccine met "strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy" and the provisional approval is for individuals 16 years and older.

The Pfizer vaccine went through Australia’s normal regulatory process, which is why it has come later than some other countries that approved it for emergency use.

The first vaccines will be given in late February, starting with 80,000 doses a week, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a news conference Monday. Australia has purchased 10 million Pfizer doses, enough for 5 million people in a country of 25 million.

Australia had hoped to start its vaccination program in mid-February but the Pfizer rollout was delayed by global supply issues.

The vaccine rollout is expected to begin across 30-50 hospital sites and those who need protection the most, such as frontline health workers and quarantine border workers, will be the first to receive the shots, according to a joint press release from the country's prime minister and health minister 

The vaccine will be rolled out in five phases over the coming months and will eventually involve more than 1,000 vaccination administration sites, the release said.

“I welcome the TGA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with our own Australian experts finding it is safe, effective and of a high standard,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Despite the Pfizer vaccine being first to receive approval, most people in Australia will receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, which is still going through regulatory approval. Australia plans to make that vaccine in a domestic production facility, which is expected to produce approximately 1 million doses a week from late March.

8:39 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

Mexico's President tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Tatiana Arias

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tested positive for Covid-19, he said on Sunday evening.

The President, who tweeted from his official Twitter account, said his symptoms are mild and that he was receiving medical treatment.

"I regret to inform you that I have contracted Covid-19. The symptoms are mild, but I am already receiving medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will move forward," Lopez Obrador wrote.

He added that Secretary of the Interior Dr. Olga Sanchez Cordero will represent him at the daily morning briefings.

Mexico is one of 17 countries in the world that has reported more than 1 million Covid-19 cases. Newly confirmed deaths and cases have risen steadily throughout the country since early October, with recent daily numbers some of the highest since the beginning the pandemic.

Lopez Obrador, who rarely wears a mask, has faced widespread criticism over his handling of the pandemic.

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8:01 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

38 Capitol Police officers test positive for Covid-19 after Capitol riot

From CNN's Nadia Kounang and Whitney Wild

More than three dozen Capitol Police officers have tested positive for coronavirus since the Capitol riot on January 6, the union representing the Capitol Police told CNN Sunday.

It's unclear how many of the 38 officers may have been on duty during the attack or when they contracted the virus. But health officials have worried that the mass of largely unmasked people, many shouting and pushing, would result in the spread of the virus. Several police officers were directly assaulted during the insurrection.

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1:00 a.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden to reinstate Covid travel restrictions on much of Europe, Brazil and adding South Africa

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

US President Joe Biden on Monday will reinstate the Covid travel restrictions on non-US citizens who have been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, a White House official told CNN.

Additionally, the President will extend the restrictions to travelers who have recently been to South Africa, the official said.

This will come one week after former President Donald Trump signed an executive order lifting the restrictions on travelers from these countries effective January 26 -- a move the Biden transition quickly said Biden would reverse as president.

Reuters was first to report these details.

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7:40 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

CDC reviewing new data that suggests coronavirus variant identified in UK could be more deadly

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are speaking with UK health officials to learn more about British data that suggests a new coronavirus variant could be more deadly.

"The CDC has reached out to UK officials and is reviewing their new mortality data associated with variant B.1.1.7," a CDC official told CNN Saturday, using the scientific name for the variant first spotted in the UK in November.

UK report released Friday states there is "a realistic possibility" that the new variant has a higher death rate than other variants.

While the data is not conclusive, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "there is some evidence that the new variant ... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."

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7:29 p.m. ET, January 24, 2021

The US just marked 25 million Covid-19 cases. Now it's a race between vaccines and variants

From CNN's Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan

It took just over a year for the US to go from one to 25 million coronavirus infections.

That's an average of about 67,934 new infections every day, or an average of one new infection every 1.2 seconds since January 21, 2020.

As infections kept soaring this weekend, so did the death toll. As of Sunday, more than 419,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The US death toll could reach 569,000 by May 1, according to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation -- even though "42,800 lives will be saved by the projected vaccine rollout."

Variants threat: While some states have reported recent dips in their daily Covid-19 numbers, new coronavirus variants have many scientists worried.

"It is, first of all, good news to see that curve bend down a little. We're still at a very high level of infections," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
"But I am very worried about whether we're going to be able to sustain this or not. If we move quickly on vaccinations ... then we can keep that curve heading down. But if the variants take hold first, that curve will turn back up. And things will get much worse," he said.
"So this is a race. Obviously, I hope we win."

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