Johnson & Johnson plans to report out Covid-19 vaccine trial results by early next week
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
Johnson & Johnson plans to report out Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial results by early next week, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said on CNBC Tuesday.
Wolk told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell the trial was a “very robust 45,000 person study” across eight countries in three different continent” and some that some new strains of the coronavirus were “potentially captured” in the data as there were sites in South Africa and Brazil.
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.
8:30 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
Regeneron says its antibody therapy prevents Covid-19
From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht
Interim results from an ongoing trial show that Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail prevented Covid-19 among people at high risk of infection, the company said in a news release Tuesday.
The study involved 400 people who were exposed to the coronavirus within their households. Half received injections of the antibody therapy, known as REGEN-COV, and half received a placebo, which does nothing.
The number of infections was lower among those who received the treatment, and they were all asymptomatic, the company said. Among those who received the therapy, infections lasted no more than one week, while 40% of infections in the placebo group lasted three to four weeks. None of the infected people who received the therapy had high viral loads, while 62% of people in the placebo group who were infected had high viral loads.
There was one death and one hospitalization in the group that received the placebo, and no deaths or hospitalizations in the treatment group.
"These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral and disease burden in those who still get infected," Dr. George Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron said in a news release. "Even with the emerging availability of active vaccines, we continue to see hundreds of thousands of people infected daily, actively spreading the virus to their close contacts. The REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may be able to help break this chain by providing immediate passive immunity to those at high risk of infection, in contrast to active vaccines which take weeks to provide protection.”
Regeneron expects to see the full data on the study early next quarter, and said it will discuss with the US Food and Drug Administration whether to expand the emergency use authorization for the therapy. The EUA allows it to be used to treat people with mild or moderate Covid-19 who are not currently hospitalized, but are at high risk of developing severe symptoms and requiring hospitalization.
Eli Lilly and Company announced last week its monoclonal antibody combination therapy, known as LY-CoV555 or bamlanivimab, was found to help prevent Covid-19 among nursing home residents and staff in a Phase 3 trial.
8:39 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
White people are getting vaccinated at higher rates in the US than Black and Latino Americans
From Nicquel Terry Ellis and Priya Krishnakumar
Black and Latino Americans are receiving the Covid-19 vaccine at significantly lower rates than White Americans — a disparity that health advocates blame on the federal government and hospitals not prioritizing equitable access.
A CNN analysis of data from 14 states found vaccine coverage is twice as high among White people on average than it is among Black and Latino people.
The analysis found that on average, more than 4% of the White population has received a Covid-19 vaccine, about 2.3 times higher than the Black population (1.9% covered) and 2.6 times higher than the Hispanic population (1.8% covered).
Black and Latino Americans are already dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of White people and being hospitalized at a rate four times higher, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CNN's findings come as the government struggles with vaccine supply shortages and a chaotic rollout that has caused delays in vaccinating the elderly. The federal government has recommended that states open up vaccination to more groups of people, including everyone 65 and older.
Initial guidance from the CDC had suggested health care workers and elderly in long-term facilities be the first to receive the vaccine.
Health experts and advocates say the federal government can help alleviate the disparities by strengthening partnerships with leaders and churches in Black and Latino communities — and be intentional about not leaving people of color out of vaccination efforts.
8:20 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
France will not delay Pfizer/BioNTech second dose
From Pierre Bairin and Gaelle Fournier in Paris
France will maintain about three to four weeks between the two Pfizer/BioNTech doses, Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a Tuesday news conference.
Last week, the French health authority and the French medicine approval agency suggested delaying the second injection as an option to allow more people to get vaccinated.
“Let's not change the injection schedule for the Pfizer vaccine," Veran clarified on Tuesday.
Veran said French health authorities would not opt to delay the second dose because it would only give a small advantage and because of “the lack of scientific consensus.”
In politics you have to choose. And I therefore maintain, on the basis of the information at my disposal, the injection time between two Pfizer injections at 21 or 28 days, that is to say three to four weeks.”
Weighing in on the potential delivery delays of the AstraZeneca vaccine -- which still needs European Medicines Agency approval for emergency use -- the minister said any supply issues would impact all member states.
“Each of the 27 countries of the European Union is receiving a proportional number of doses to its population within the population of the European Union and if there are delays, they will be the same for everybody," Veran said.
The big picture in France: More than 3,000 people are in intensive care units (ICUs) in the country due to severe Covid symptoms for the first time since December 9, according to the latest data from the health agency.
As of Monday evening, there were 3,031 patients in ICUs, the agency said -- an increase of 76 people in 24 hours.
There are 26,888 people in hospital, an increase of 531 patients in the past 24 hours. To date, 73,494 have died of Covid-related illnesses in France.
French media have been speculating whether President Emmanuel Macron would address the country this week and announce increased restrictions.The Elysée palace press office told CNN on Monday, however, that there were no plans for Macron to make a TV address this week.
His office added that the effectiveness of the current 6 p.m. curfew would be reviewed as planned on Saturday, two weeks after it was imposed nationwide.
8:08 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
South Korean city orders one person from every household to test for Covid-19
CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul
South Korea's Pohang City has ordered one member of every household to get tested for Covid-19, a statement from local authorities said on Tuesday.
In total, 174,991 households in all districts and two towns in Pohang are subject to this order.
Pohang City recommended that residents in their 20s and 30s should get tested and ordered workers at restaurants and hair salons, as well as regular workers and users of bathhouses and hot springs, to get the test.
In a briefing on Monday, Mayor Lee Kang-deok said the administrative order comes as community transmissions continue in the city.
Pohang City has reported a total of 400 Covid-19 cases since the outbreak, according to the city’s dashboard.
Despite being one of the first countries to be hit by the virus, South Korea has managed to avoid stringent lockdowns and has been considered a model for its effective response to the outbreak.
This is due to a combination of aggressive testing and sophisticated track and trace techniques.
But as the pandemic drags on into winter, the emergence of a so-called "third wave" has resulted in an apparently untraceable rise in new infections.
According to the latest data from John Hopkins University, 75,875 people have been infected with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic across South Korea, with 1,371 deaths as a result.
UK is "confident" it will receive all promised shots, as Europe's scramble for vaccines gathers pace
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Chris Liakos
The UK’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said Tuesday that Britain is "confident" it will receive all its promised vaccine supplies.
In an interview with Sky News, Zahawi said he was sure both Pfizer and AstraZeneca would deliver the supplies needed to meet the UK’s mid-February target to vaccinate the most vulnerable people.
Vaccine supply has been a key focus for both the UK and its European counterparts in recent days, with EU officials Monday accusing manufacturer AstraZeneca of providing a "lack of clarity."
AstraZeneca said in a statement on Friday that “while there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”
We will be supplying tens of millions of doses in February and March to the European Union, as we continue to ramp up production volumes,” the statement continued.
On Monday, AstraZeneca said its CEO Pascal Soriot spoke with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
[Soriot] stressed the importance of working in partnership and how AstraZeneca is doing everything it can to bring its vaccine to millions of Europeans as soon as possible,” the statement released on Monday said.
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Zahawi acknowledged vaccine supplies “are tight,” calling Pfizer and AstraZeneca "great corporates" and that he was "sure they will deliver for the European Union, and for the United Kingdom, and for the rest of the world."
Read more about criticism of the vaccine delays here:
The United States crossed the terrible milestone of 400,000 deaths from coronavirus early last week, and there are currently over 2.1 million reported deaths worldwide, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
There are also new variants with mutations that could make Covid-19 even more transmissible and possibly even more deadly. However, there is also encouraging news, with two vaccines authorized for emergency use so far by the US Food and Drug Administration that are safe and very effective.
CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen shares how you can address misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccines when you hear them from friends and neighbors.
CNN: Why is it important for everyone to know what myths are circulating about coronavirus vaccines?
Dr. Leana Wen: One of the key principles in public health is that the messenger is often more important than the message. You are the most trusted messenger to someone. It could be your parents, your work colleagues or your friends. Getting people vaccinated is our best hope of ending this pandemic, and we need everyone's help to convince people to do so.
CNN: Let's talk about vaccine safety. There must be a lot of myths around that.
Wen: A common myth is that getting the coronavirus vaccine will give you coronavirus. I hear this every year when it comes to the flu vaccine, too: Often, patients will say they don't want to get the flu vaccine because they think they'll get the flu from it.
Neither is true. If someone is concerned about this, you can say that none of the coronavirus vaccines being tested in the US contains live virus. So it's not possible to get coronavirus from the coronavirus vaccine.
The UK virus variant appears to be growing in Belgium
From CNNs James Frater in London
Preliminary estimates indicate the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom now accounts for between 10 to 20% of new infections in Belgium, officials there say.
Steven Van Gucht, head of Viral Diseases of Sciensano, the Belgian Health Authority, said officials had been seeing more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant during a Tuesday news conference in Brussels.
"Since the beginning of January we have also seen more and more infections with the British variant, from preliminary estimates up to and including 23 January, about 10 to 20% of the infections. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty on these figures," Van Gucht said.
Some background: Belgium’s borders will close to all but essential travelers for five weeks from Wednesday, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced Friday, stressing that the country must “put up a barrier” against the spread of coronavirus.
“From January 27 there will be a temporary ban on recreational and tourist travel, this applies to trips from our country as well,” de Croo said.
“We are not building a wall around our country… we realize that these are very drastic measures, but we have seen in recent weeks that when people travel, that the virus grows,” he added.
Under the new measures, all travelers from the United Kingdom, South Africa and South America will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, and must take a coronavirus test on their first and seventh day of quarantine.
“Non-Belgian nationals who enter our country, for example for professional reasons, must be able to show a double test, a negative PCR test before departure and a negative PCR test on arrival,” the Prime Minister outlined.
7:19 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021
Vaccine companies must honor their obligations, European Commission President says
From CNN’s Chris Liakos in Paris
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Covid-19 vaccine firms must deliver on their promises during a special address at this year’s virtual Davos.
Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines, to create a truly global common good. And now the companies must deliver. They must honor their obligations,” she said.
Von der Leyen said that the European Union has helped investing large sums to build research capacities and production facilities early and this is why it will set up a vaccine export transparency mechanism.
She added that the bloc is determined to contribute to the vaccine effort but that “it also means business.”
Vaccine supply has become a key focus in recent days with EU officials Monday accusing manufacturer AstraZeneca of providing a "lack of clarity."
The drugmaker said in a statement Friday that “while there is no scheduled delay to the start of shipments of our vaccine should we receive approval in Europe, initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.”