January 26 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021
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1:16 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

US reports more than 147,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 147,254 new coronavirus infections and 1,758 virus-related fatalities on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

According to JHU's tally, the nationwide totals now stand at 25,293,201 cases, including 420,972 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 41,418,325 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 22,734,243 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN is tracking US cases here.

12:53 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Mexico's foreign minister tests negative for Covid-19 after president's positive result

From CNN's Tatiana Arias and Maria Fleet in Atlanta

Marcelo Ebrard looks on during the arrival of a new shipping of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Benito Juarez International Airport on January 5, in Mexico City.
Marcelo Ebrard looks on during the arrival of a new shipping of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Benito Juarez International Airport on January 5, in Mexico City. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced on Twitter Monday that his PCR test came back negative, one day after the country's President tested positive for the novel coronavirus.  

Ebrard's statement said he'll be tested again on Wednesday "as recommended", and will continue to work from home in the meantime. "Tomorrow I will participate in the UN Security Council to present Mexico's position on the Middle East," his statement said.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. On Friday, the two were seen sitting together unmasked with two other colleagues during a phone call with US President Joe Biden. 

Lopez Obrador, who is rarely seen wearing a mask, has been working from the Presidential Palace as he recovers. 

Mexico’s total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases stands at 1,771,740, with more than 150,000 deaths from the virus, according to the country’s Health Ministry. 

12:36 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Everyday activities are more dangerous with new Covid-19 variants circulating, says emergency physician

From CNN Health's Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Leana Wen.
Dr. Leana Wen. Source: CNN

People are more likely to contract Covid-19 through everyday activities now that virus variants are circulating in the United States, Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and CNN analyst said Monday.

Wen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that public health officials are extremely concerned about the variants emerging across the US.

“We've seen what happens in other countries that have actually had coronavirus under relatively good control, then these variants took over and they had explosive spread of the virus, and then overwhelmed hospitals,” she said.

Though public health measures, like masking and social distancing, will still help prevent the spread of the virus, low-risk activities might be more dangerous under these new conditions, said Wen.

“Now we think that maybe it's safe to open K-8 schools,” she said. “Well, what happens if we have an even more transmissible variant that could make those activities a lot more dangerous?”

“If we thought that going to the grocery store before was relatively safe, there's actually a higher likelihood of contracting coronavirus through those everyday activities,” she added.

Wen said the circulation of virus variants underscores the need to increase vaccinations and perform more genomic surveillance.

12:14 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Fauci feared Trump's disinfectant comment would make people "start doing dangerous and foolish things"

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said Monday evening he was extremely worried by former President Donald Trump's dangerous April suggestion that ingesting disinfectant could possibly be used to treat Covid-19.

"I just said, 'Oh my goodness gracious.' I could just see what's going to happen," Fauci told CNN's Erin Burnett on "Out Front" of Trump's suggestion.

"You're going to have people who hear that from the President and they're going to start doing dangerous and foolish things, which is the reason why, immediately, those of us who were not there said, 'This is something you should not do.' Be very explicit. The (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) came out, I think, the next day and put in one of their publications, 'Do not do this.'"

At an April White House news conference, Trump had mused about whether disinfectants could be used to treat the virus in humans -- asking whether there is "a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning."

He later falsely claimed he was being sarcastic and that he was prompting officials to look into the effect of disinfectant on hands -- not through ingestion or injection. But the comments prompted cleaning product companies and state health officials to issue warnings about the dangers of their ingestion.

Read the full story:

12:01 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Influential model that forecasts 569,000 US Covid-19 deaths doesn't yet account for new variants

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray.
IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray. Source: CNN

An influential model that is forecasting 569,000 Americans will die from Covid-19 by May 1 does not take into account new variants of the virus that are potentially more contagious, the scientist leading the modeling team said Monday.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington released a new forecast Sunday that also predicts a third wave of infection late this year unless people get more eager about the vaccine. But the model also sees cases and deaths tapering off starting in March and April.

“These numbers don’t yet account for the new variants. We will be putting out models at the end of the week that will, and that will change the picture,” IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“But the decline that we expect to see is coming because we're at the peak of seasonality,” Murray said.
“That's going to start driving down transmission, and we're seeing vaccination scale up, so … we expect to start coming off the peak in the coming weeks.”
Vaccines will make a real difference, Murray predicted. “I think the vaccine will prevent a lot of death,” he said. “But it's pretty likely we believe that there will be a third wave of transmission in the winter of 2021.”

Vaccine uptake: The prediction of a third wave is not because of more transmissible new variants, but because people may not get vaccinated in the numbers needed, Murray said.

“Well, it's about half say no -- a quarter are not sure, and a quarter say no,” he said. “So, it's the quarter not sure that we've got to focus on and convince them that the vaccine is really important for them and important for their family or for the community.”

Half of Americans say they do plan to be vaccinated.

9:01 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

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

From CNN's MJ Lee

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.

9:21 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

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

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen

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.
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. Oded Balilty/AP

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.

8:16 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Here's what could happen next with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jen Christensen

If all has gone well with its clinical trial, Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine will likely be the next one available in the United States.

Last week, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Johnson & Johnson is "right around the corner" from seeking emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The company said it's on track to have interim data from its clinical trial by the end of January. The company has a shareholder call on its fourth-quarter results Tuesday.

Still, it can take weeks for the vaccine to make it through the US Food and Drug Administration's authorization process and it's not clear yet when any of those key steps will take place.

The two vaccines already available in the United States are highly effective, but all eyes are on Johnson & Johnson's, which is only a single dose and would be much easier to administer.

"If this vaccine proves to be safe and effective, it could have major implications for the vaccine rollout because J&J has committed to producing and deploying at least a billion doses of vaccine during this calendar year, including at least 100 million doses for the U.S. population," said Dr. Dan Barouch of Harvard Medical School, who helped develop Johnson & Johnson's vaccine candidate.

"If it's a single-dose vaccine, then a billion vaccine doses would translate into a billion people vaccinated," Barouch said Monday on CNN's Coronavirus Fact vs Fiction podcast.

Read the full story:

7:55 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Moderna expects vaccine will be protective against variants, but will test boosters to improve immunity

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine created antibodies that neutralized coronavirus variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the company said in a news release on Monday.

But there are concerns that the vaccine may have a somewhat decreased efficacy against the strain first spotted in South Africa, and Moderna is working on a booster aimed at fighting it.

Two doses of the vaccine are "expected to be protective against emerging strains detected to date," according to the release.
The company's study showed that the variant first found in the UK had "no significant impact" on the vaccine's effectiveness.
But in the press release, Moderna noted that "a six-fold reduction in neutralizing titers was observed with (the variant discovered in South Africa) relative to prior variants."

The company said the vaccine was still expected to be effective.

"Despite this reduction, neutralizing titer levels with (the variant discovered in South Africa) remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the press release.

David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center, said while he's "cautiously optimistic" Moderna's vaccine will work well against this strain, he's still not sure.

"The efficacy might be reduced somewhat, but it may still be very effective," he said. "Hopefully the vaccine will still be 70-80% effective."

The variant first identified in the UK has appeared in more than 45 other countries, including 195 cases in the US.

The variant first identified in South Africa has appeared in more than 20 other countries. No cases have been identified in the US, but experts say it's likely there are cases and US surveillance, which has been widely criticized, has not yet found them.

Read the full story: