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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6:03 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

New variant of coronavirus called P.1 detected in US for first time, officials say

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A new variant of coronavirus that worries health officials has been detected in the United States for the first time, officials in Minnesota said Monday. They said they had detected the P.1 variant of coronavirus in a traveler from Brazil.

P.1 is one of four variants being closely watched by officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until Monday, it had only been reported in Brazil and among a group of four travelers from Brazil to Japan.

“The variant was found through the MDH’s variant surveillance program. Each week this program collects 50 random samples from the University of Minnesota clinical laboratories, Infinity Biologix Laboratory in Oakdale, and other testing partners and then conducts special testing using a process called whole genome sequencing,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement.

The P.1 variant carries a pattern of mutations that appears to make the virus more easily transmitted.

“The emergence of this variant raises concerns of a potential increase in transmissibility or propensity for SARS-CoV-2 re-infection of individuals,” the CDC says on its website.

It’s been the most common variant of the virus detected in a surge of cases seen in and around Manaus, the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon region.

There’s no evidence it causes more severe disease, however.

“One of the reasons we are able to detect those variants of concern in Minnesota so quickly is that we have one of the best public health laboratory surveillance systems in the US,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a statement.

“We know that even as we work hard to defeat COVID-19, the virus continues to evolve as all viruses do. That’s yet another reason why we want to limit COVID-19 transmission – the fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to evolve,” Malcolm added.
6:00 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Vaccine distribution is an area of common ground for bipartisan group of senators, lawmaker says

From CNN's Jessica Dean

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito described the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine as a key area of common ground for the bipartisan group of senators who took part in a call with the White House on Sunday. 

“I think we all recognize we have a ways to go with vaccine distribution and therapeutics and that’s a top line on commonality among everybody,” Moore-Capito said Monday afternoon. 

President Biden said earlier on Monday he does not want to take a piecemeal approach with his Covid relief bill, but instead hopes Congress will pass one large bill encompassing a number of issues. 

Moore-Capito elaborated on some of the questions and concerns shared on the call. 

“We presented questions about money that still hasn’t been expended, are we targeting it well with individuals and everyone got a chance to kind of weigh in on that," she said.

Moore-Capito said she didn’t know about plans for the group to meet again but said she imagined they would. 

5:32 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Connecticut governor asks for state of emergency to be extended through April 20

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has formally requested legislative leaders to extend his emergency authorization due to Covid-19 through April 20. 

“We think by April 20 we're going to have a really good handle on where we stand in terms of vaccinations, where we stand on supply of vaccinations, where we stand on bending the curve, where we stand compared to that super contagious variant of the germ that's out there, hitting us every day right now, I think that'll be a very good time,” Lamont said Monday.

Lamont said the state has identified four additional cases of the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant in the state, for a total of eight known cases. The governor said the state is assuming the variant is much more widespread than just the eight recorded cases. 

According to Lamont, 27% of the people 75 years old and above in Connecticut have now received their first vaccine dose. At least 308,502 vaccine doses have been administered in total and Connecticut expects to have about 585,000 doses delivered by the end of this week, including first and second doses, according to Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

Note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, The Covid Tracking Project and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

5:15 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Vaccine makers say it will take time to scale up manufacturing

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Scaling up manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines can’t be done overnight without sacrificing quality, officials from vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna said Monday.

“In collaboration with our partner, we're adding new abilities to supply, adding new material suppliers and growing that infrastructure as quickly as we can,” Dr. Rich Pelt, director of regulatory affairs at Pfizer, said during a panel hosted by investment institute iConnections. 

It takes time to get that right, Pelt noted.

Moderna president Dr. Stephen Hoge said vaccine makers have an obligation to maintain quality and consistency as they scale up capacity. 

“There can be no defects and there can’t be any quality concerns,” Hoge said. “It can't be that it's only 90% as potent, as you said. It has to be what you made the first time.”

He said the goal is to produce a consistent product at any manufacturing plant.

“There is six, nine months for us to bring new capacity online, no matter who does it, because you want to make sure that by the time it gets up and operating, that it’s really high quality,” Hoge said.

“That's the frustrating thing about scaling up,” he added.

Hoge said that the introduction of new Covid-19 vaccines will be part of the solution.

“We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we expect J&J, Johnson & Johnson, to have a vaccine here shortly and many others,” Hoge said. “We're optimistic that actually the solution will not just be that we make more, but that actually there's many more options available.”

5:23 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden says he thinks vaccine will be widely available by spring

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

President Joe Biden speaks during an event on American manufacturing, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event on American manufacturing, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex on Monday, January 25, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden indicated on Monday that he thinks anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it by this spring – a target similar to one set under the Trump administration.

He also said that his administration does know how many coronavirus vaccines are available in the US, shortly after his top spokesperson and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director both told press they weren’t sure how much vaccine was in the American supply.

Asked when any American who wants a vaccine will be able to get it, Biden said during an executive order signing at the White House, “I think it’ll be this spring. I think we’ll be able to do that this spring."

"I feel confident that by summer we’re going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity and increasing the access for people aren’t on the first – on the list, all the way going down to children," he said. "I feel good about where we’re going and I think we can get it done.” 

Biden indicated that his administration knows the number of vaccines available in the US. 

“(W)e are optimistic that we will have enough vaccine. And in very short order. As you know, we came in office without knowledge of how much vaccine was out being held in abeyance are available. Now that we're here, we've been around a week or so, we now have that,” Biden said at an executive order signing at the White House.

Some context: Hours earlier, White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not provide details on the current coronavirus vaccine supply in the US, blaming problems inherited by the Trump administration for the Biden administration’s lack of information about the current supply levels.

Hear more:

5:01 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Covid-19 variant first found in the UK discovered in Nevada, state health official says

From CNN’s Keith Allen

The Covid-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom has been detected in Nevada, Dr. Mark Pandori, director of Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, said on a conference call Monday afternoon.

The state’s first known case of the variant was found in a symptomatic Las Vegas woman in her 30s after genomic sequencing was conducted at the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory in Reno, Pandori said.

“It is very normal for viruses to be changing, but it really does add to the messaging and the importance that yet another problem with letting this virus circulate wildly in a community is that you will have more variation and opportunities to have variants of this nature,” Pandori continued. 

“Yes, it's here and yes there's reason to be concerned about its biological capacity, that's been shown, but the opportunity is here to prevent any further spread of it, or at least significant threat, or at least to stem its spread, because we believe we caught it pretty early,” Pandori said.

4:49 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden suggests US will get to 1.5 million vaccines a day

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden said he expects the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day. That moves the goalposts to roughly 500,000 more vaccinations than his target of one million per day in his first 100 days in office. Biden suggested the US could surpass that initial target in about three weeks. 

“I'm quite confident that we will be in a position within the next three weeks or so to be vaccinating people at the range of 1 million a day or in excess of that,” he told reporters Monday, clarifying that he was referring to 100 million shots, not necessarily 100 million people, since some of the vaccines require more than one shot. 

“I think with the grace of God the goodwill of the neighbor and the creek not rising, as the old saying goes, I think we may be able to get that to 150 – 1.5 million a day, rather than 1 million a day. But we have to meet that goal of 1 million a day, and everything points that we're going to have a) enough vaccine b) enough syringes and all the paraphernalia needed to store, keep, inject move into your arm the vaccine. Three, a number of vaccinators people administering the vaccine, which is not an easy task of those who have those facilities like the nursing homes and hospitals,” Biden continued.

He said his administration is working to produce additional vaccinators and feels “confident” they can do so. He also referenced the importance of creating a forum where Americans “can show up, stand in line, and get their vaccine without having to stand in line for eight hours, being able to pick up the phone, call the pharmacy and get your name on the list, etc.”

5:02 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Despite dropping cases, January on track to be Covid-19's deadliest month in US

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A casket is loaded into a hearse at the Boyd Funeral Home, as burials at cemeteries are delayed to the surge of Covid-19 deaths on January 14, in Los Angeles, California.
A casket is loaded into a hearse at the Boyd Funeral Home, as burials at cemeteries are delayed to the surge of Covid-19 deaths on January 14, in Los Angeles, California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The number of new coronavirus cases reported over the past seven days is 22% lower than a week ago and the seven-day average has been trending down for 10 days, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Deaths were also lower than a week ago – by about 7% – but January is on track to be Covid-19’s deadliest month in the US. 

At least 73,259 people were reported to have died of Covid-19 in January, according to the most recent data from Johns Hopkins University – more than one death every 30 seconds. More than two cases were reported every second.

Despite the improvements, the average number of new cases and deaths reported each day in January are higher than any other month. The seven-day average for new cases and deaths both hit a peak in the first half of the month.

Dr. Ronald Moolenaar, deputy chief medical officer for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 Emergency Response, gave similar statistics in a briefing Monday to faith leaders. “So these statistics provide us with some valuable information, and when the percentages are decreasing, it tells us that mitigation efforts are working, and that we need to keep up the good work to reduce the spread of Covid,” Moolenaar said during the call.

4:34 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

EU accuses AstraZeneca of "lack of clarity"

From CNN’s James Frater

The European Union has accused AstraZeneca of lack of clarity and said the company had provided “insufficient explanations” for delays in supplying its Covid-19 vaccine to member states.

“Discussions with @AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations,” the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, tweeted after a meeting with the pharmaceutical giant on Monday. “EU Member States are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold.”

“With our Member States, we have requested from AZ a detailed planning of vaccine deliveries and when distribution will take place to Member States,” Kyriakides also said, adding that another meeting with AstraZeneca would be held on Wednesday. 

Earlier on Monday, Kyriakides said the pharmaceutical giant’s delays were “not acceptable."

“The European Union has pre-financed the development of the vaccine and its production and wants to see the return,” she also said, adding that the bloc wants to know how many doses the company has produced, and who they’ve been sold to.