January 25 coronavirus news

Virgina Mason advanced registered nurse practitioner Erin Forsythe loads a syringing with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during a partnership with the hospital network and Amazon to increase the efficiency of vaccinations, at the Amazon Meeting Center in downtown Seattle, Washington on January 24, 2021. - Amazon is partnering with Virginia Mason for a one-day pop-up clinic on January 24. 2021 that aims to vaccinate 2,000 people at the companys Meeting Center near downtown Seattle. Virginia Mason is handling vaccine administration, while Amazon is providing the location and help with logistics. (Photo by Grant HINDSLEY / AFP) (Photo by GRANT HINDSLEY/AFP via Getty Images)
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations plateau across US
02:20 - Source: CNN

What you need to know

  • It will likely take until summer for the “average, healthy, young American” to have access to Covid-19 vaccination, a top infectious disease expert said.
  • The US CDC is reviewing new data that suggests a coronavirus variant first identified in the UK could be more deadly.
  • President Biden will reinstate Covid travel restrictions on Brazil and much of Europe, and add South Africa, a White House official told CNN.
  • Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tested positive for Covid-19.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has moved here.

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CVS plans to start on-site vaccinations in 11 states next month

Crates are stacked up outside of CVS Pharmacy during the coronavirus pandemic on May 1, 2020 in New York City.

CVS pharmacies will begin offering on-site vaccinations in 11 states in February, Dr. David Fairchild, associate chief medical officer at CVS Health said Monday.

CVS partnered with the federal government to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities. It announced Monday that it completed first-round doses in all participating facilities. Fairchild said CVS will soon begin vaccinating other eligible people.

In an interview hosted by the American College of Physicians and Annals of Internal Medicine, Fairchild said CVS will begin dispensing vaccinations at 272 retail locations across 11 states in February.

Fairchild said locations are distributed across the country geographically and across the social vulnerability index.

“We worked with an outside organization to help identify where our stores fell in terms of this vulnerability index, and our stores are pretty much distributed evenly across that index, so that’s a good thing in terms of assuring equity,” he noted.

Fairchild noted that vaccine eligibility varies by states, and the CVS digital screening tool will account for that.

“We can schedule first doses, and we also have the ability to have people come in just for their second dose if they got their first dose somewhere else,” he said. “And of course, the vaccinations are done in a way that’s no cost to them even if they do not have insurance.”

UK to offer genomic expertise in identifying Covid-19 variants 

The United Kingdom announced on Tuesday it will offer its genomics expertise in identifying new variants of the coronavirus to countries that do not have the resources to do so, according to a statement released by the country’s Department of Health and Social Care.

“Countries will be offered UK capacity to analyze new strains of the virus through the launch of the New Variant Assessment Platform,” the statement read. 

The platform will initially be led by Public Health England (PHE), which is working with National Health Service Test and Trace and the World Health Organization’s SARS-CoV-2 Global Laboratory Working Group.

The department said the UK has carried out more than half of all SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences submitted to the global database, a capability which helped PHE’s scientists detect the variant in Kent late last year.  

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to deliver remarks on Tuesday regarding this announcement and outline his vision for a collaborative global health system to ensure the world is better prepared against future threats.

“Not only will this Platform help us better understand this virus and how it spreads, but it will also boost global capability in this important field, so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead,” Hancock is expected to say.

Variant first spotted in Brazil might become "more dominant," Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the President, said the new variant of coronavirus called P.1 identified in Minnesota in someone who had recently traveled from Brazil, could become “more dominant.”

Additionally, Fauci said that they are paying close attention to this new variant as well as to the strain also recently found in California.

“Up until recently, we haven’t had a comprehensive genomic surveillance, which the CDC is really increasing together with a little bit of collaboration, in fact, a lot of collaboration with the NIH, that will get a much better feel for what is circulating in our own country,” said Fauci.

Vaccines vs. variants: Current vaccines for Covid-19 that are currently being administered are likely to be effective against the new variants, Fauci said.

“The good news is the vaccines as they exist now still would be effective against the mutants. The sobering news … as you get more and more replication, you can get more and more of evolution of mutants, which means you always got to be a step ahead of it,” Fauci said.

Fauci said the antibodies that are induced by both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccine seem to be effective in blocking the variant first found in the UK. He said the evidence also indicates vaccines will protect people against infection with variants first spotted in South Africa and Brazil.

“When you’re dealing with South Africa and Brazil – but mostly South Africa, we haven’t looked at Brazil as carefully as South Africa – although it’s been diminished somewhat it’s still well within the cushion range of being an effective vaccine,” Fauci said.

Additionally, Fauci said surveillance needs to increase so that scientists can stay on top of mutations in the virus.

CNN’s Erin Burnett speaks with Dr. Anthony Fauci:

04:06 - Source: CNN

100 million doses in 100 days remains US target despite Biden's hopes, White House official says

The Biden administration’s official goal still remains 100 million vaccine shots in their first 100 days in office, despite the US President expressing optimism that the total number could be even higher, a White House official told CNN.

President Joe Biden said that he was hopeful that the United States could soon be administering 1.5 million coronavirus vaccines a day – 50% more than the 1 million doses per day goal he had been promising since before inauguration.

But the White House is still aiming for the original goal, which the administration still views as “ambitious but achievable,” the official said. However they also anticipate that plenty of things could go wrong given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. 

The official stressed that the hope now was to surpass that original goal of 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days.

Describing Biden as an “optimist,” the official also said the President has been pushing his Covid team to aim for progress beyond their initial goal of 100 million vaccines doses in 100 days.

Read more about Biden’s vaccine hopes:

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Biden raises the bar on vaccines and suggests US will get to 1.5 million a day

Mexico's richest man is recovering from Covid-19, his son announces on Twitter

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helú listens to a question during a news conference in Mexico City, on October, 16, 2019.

Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helú, is recovering from Covid-19, according to his son, Carlos Slim Domit.

Slim Domit announced on Twitter late Monday afternoon that his father “had shown a favorable response to Covid after (experiencing) a week of mild symptoms”. Domit also said his father “preventively” went to the National Institute of Nutrition for “clinical analysis, monitoring and due treatment.”  

Billionaire businessman Slim Helú, 80, heads a global telecoms conglomerate that includes mobile companies Telmex, América Móvil and Grupo Carso. 

The family’s namesake nonprofit Carlos Slim Foundation and AstraZeneca signed an agreement in October of last year to help manufacture and distribute the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at no profit across Latin America, with an initial supply of some 150 million doses and first shipments expected in the first half of 2021. 

Details of the agreement are published on the Carlos Slim Foundation website.

0.01% of people tested positive for coronavirus after two vaccine doses, Israeli data shows

An Israeli man receives his second Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from a medical professional at a vaccination center set up on a mall parking lot in Givataim, Israel, on Wednesday, January 20.

About 0.01% of a large group of people who received two doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine tested positive for coronavirus after their second shot – and those patients had only a mild illness, according to preliminary data from an Israeli health care system. 

Maccabi Healthcare Services found that out of approximately 128,600 people who received two doses of the vaccine, 20 became infected and tested positive more than a week after their second dose.

Maccabi did not test all patients after receiving their second dose. Instead, they tested an unspecified number of people who developed symptoms or who were exposed to someone with Covid-19.  

The clinical trials for Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine showed it to be about 95% effective. 

The press release stated that the data is “preliminary” but that “the numbers are very encouraging.” 

Of the 20 patients who tested positive, 50% suffer from chronic illnesses. All of the 20 patients experienced a mild illness with symptoms including headaches, cough, weakness or fatigue. No one was hospitalized. 

Out of a population of just over 9 million people, Israel has given first vaccine doses to about 2.5 million people, and second doses to about 1 million people.

Anti-curfew rioters clash with Netherlands police for third straight night

Police in the Netherlands have deployed teargas and water cannons in an attempt to control anti-lockdown rioting in several cities across the country on Monday, a spokesperson for the national police said on Dutch television Monday evening.

This is the third consecutive night of confrontations with police in the Netherlands. A national, nightly curfew designed to reduce social contact came into effect in the country on Saturday, and runs from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

Police in several cities reported mostly young people setting off fireworks, throwing stones, and looting stores.

Groups of rioters have been “seeking confrontation with the police, and in a number of locations have been looting, especially in Rotterdam,” police spokesperson Willem Woelders said.

He said that police had deployed water cannons, and used tear gas in Haarlem and Rotterdam. Police had already made at least 151 arrests, Woelders said. At least 250 people were arrested on Sunday, police said.

“Tonight we are on the street again to enforce the curfew,” police said in a statement on Twitter. “If you deliberately do not adhere to it and you commit or call for criminal offenses, know that we can arrest you for this later.”

Close to a quarter of New York City first responders infected in first wave of pandemic, study indicates

Health workers carry a patient to an ambulance on April 11, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Close to a quarter of all first responders in New York City appear to have been infected with coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic, researchers reported Monday. 

Antibody tests of more than 22,000 police, fire, emergency medical technicians, corrections and other workers between May and July showed 22.5% of them had antibodies indicating a previous infection with coronavirus, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led team reported.

That’s close to the population as a whole in the hard-hit city, the team reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. But there were some telling differences from one type of worker to another—and some big surprises.

The study found that the percentage of police and firefighters with antibodies was similar to the overall seroprevalence of the population.

Seroprevalence is the number of people in a specific population who test positive for a disease.

“Seroprevalence was highest in correctional staff (39.2%) and emergency medical technicians (38.3%) and lowest in laboratory technicians (10.1%) and medicolegal death investigators (10.8%),” the team wrote.

Across the city as a whole just under 20% of residents had antibodies to the virus in tests done over the same time period. 

“We found that seroprevalence for police and firefighters was close to that of the general population,” the researchers wrote. “Among healthcare workers, EMTs had a seroprevalence of 38.3% and the strongest association with seropositivity after adjustment.”

One surprise finding: People who said they always wore gloves were more likely to have antibodies to the virus. This could be for two reasons: people may not take their gloves off properly, and infect themselves while doing so, or people who use more protective equipment are doing so because they are already in high-risk situations, the researchers said.

About 6% of the US population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine

Chief clinical officer John Corman MD at Virginia Mason administers a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Amazon Meeting Center in downtown Seattle, Washington on January 24.

More than 22.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, according to data published Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Nearly 6% of the US population – more than 19 million people – has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 3.3 million people are fully vaccinated. 

In Alaska, about 11% of the population has received at least one dose, followed by West Virginia where more than 9% of the population has received at least one dose, the data shows.

Nationwide, about 55% of the 41.4 million distributed doses have been administered.

States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed – and may not necessarily mean all doses were given on the day reported.

It's important to prove that vaccines protect against new Covid-19 strains, Moderna president says

As Covid-19 continues to evolve, it’s important to prove that vaccines provide protection against new strains, Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge said Monday.

“The virus is evolving,” Hoge said during a panel hosted by investment institute iConnections. “It’s not sitting still.”

He said that the emergence of new strains will “change the calculus” of vaccines.

“I think as we look at the efficacy of any of these vaccines, we should hope and assume that they’re going to work across them, but we need to prove that case, time and time again,” Hoge said.

“Now, usually, probably just with measuring the vaccine’s ability to provide neutralizing antibodies in the blood, but in some cases over time we may need to go look at whether or not we’re actually protecting in the real world against some of these new strains,” he added. 

Hoge said this process could continue for years.

“Until we’ve got this thing sort of fully suppressed and in control, and people are broadly vaccinated or seropositive and protected against it, it’s going to be an ongoing battle for the next couple of years,” he noted.

Restaurants in Los Angeles County reopen for outdoor dining after stay-at-home order is lifted

The doors of the Baby Blues BBQ restaurant are seen locked in Los Angeles Monday, January 25.

Los Angeles County will allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining with safety modifications on Friday, county officials announced in a news conference Monday.

The announcement comes after the state lifted its regional stay-at-home order, which also included a ban on outdoor dining, after a four-week projection of intensive care unit bed capacity is expected to meet the 15% threshold in all five regions. 

L.A. County implemented the ban on outdoor dining in November amid a surge of new infections to reduce the possibility of exposure to coronavirus. The decision sparked controversy, drawing lawsuits from the California Restaurant Association and local restaurants hoping to overturn the ban.

County health officials also announced that starting today, museums, zoos, and aquariums can reopen for outdoor operations as well as fitness facilities and faith-based services. Personal care services can reopen for indoor operations with 25% capacity.

Private gatherings are also permitted as long as they are held outdoors and are limited to three households with a maximum of 15 people, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced. 

While some businesses will be able to resume operations effective immediately, Ferrer reminded residents that “this is not the time for people to think we can get back to our normal businesses and our normal ways of interacting with each other.”

She urged people to be careful and follow health orders to “prevent another increase in cases that leads us back to more restrictions.”