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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8:47 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Iran approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim and Mary Ilyushina

A dose of the Sputnik V vaccine is seen during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Moscow, Russia on January 21.
A dose of the Sputnik V vaccine is seen during a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Moscow, Russia on January 21. Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, adding that Iran hopes to purchase and start joint production in the “near future," according to Russian news agency TASS.

The announcement comes following talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, TASS reported.  

During a conference on state TV, Iranian health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadaat Lari said the country recorded 6,420 new daily coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 1,385,706.

Some background on Sputnik V:

  • Russia approved the Sputnik V vaccine in August ahead of large-scale Phase 3 trials, with great fanfare from state TV.
  • The shot showed more than 90% efficacy in trials, according to its makers at the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Biology.  
  • Some experts have accused Russia of cutting corners with its vaccine development for political and PR gain -- a claim Moscow has denied.

Read more about Russia's Sputnik V vaccine here:

8:37 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

South African president reproaches wealthy countries for hoarding vaccines

From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse in London and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern over “vaccine nationalism” in an address at this year’s virtual Davos summit.

While he didn’t identify a specific country, Ramaphosa asserted that wealthy nations had acquired more shots than they need.

“The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from the developers and manufacturers of these vaccines, and some countries have even gone beyond and acquired up to four times what their population needs, and that was aimed at hoarding these vaccines,” the president said. “This is being done to the exclusion of other countries in the world that most need this.”

Ramaphosa called upon governments to “release the excess vaccines that you’ve ordered and hoarded.”

“Ending the pandemic worldwide will require greater collaboration on the rollout of vaccines, ensuring that no country is left behind in this effort,” he also said.

Ramaphosa -- who is currently chairing the African Union -- said that throughout the pandemic the continent has “acted as one.” He said the continent-wide task force had secured a provisional 270 million doses for African countries from manufacturers. This is in addition to the 600 million doses expected from the WHO-led COVAX initiative.

WHO’s Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said Friday the initial 30 million doses are expected to arrive by March, with the rest by the end of 2021.

By the end of the year, the scheme is expected to cover about 20% of the population in African countries, based on two doses per person, she said, adding that healthcare workers and other high-priority groups will be prioritized in the vaccination drive.

Ramaphosa said the pandemic has had a “heavy toll” on South Africa, with the country recording around 1.4 million cases and more than 40,000 deaths.

8:31 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

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.

About this vaccine: 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.

8:30 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Regeneron says its antibody therapy prevents Covid-19

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. signage on its headquarters in Tarrytown, New York in June 2020.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. signage on its headquarters in Tarrytown, New York in June 2020. Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images

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

Syringes filled with a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine await to be administered at the Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California on January 25.
Syringes filled with a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine await to be administered at the Kedren Community Health Center in Los Angeles, California on January 25. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

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

A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21.
A nurse fills a syringe with a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, on January 21. Christophe Archambault/AFP/ Getty Images

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.

Some background:

  • 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.

Read more about South Korea here:

7:56 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

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

Nadhim Zahawi at 10 Downing Street, London, on January 5.
Nadhim Zahawi at 10 Downing Street, London, on January 5. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

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:

7:43 a.m. ET, January 26, 2021

Debunking Covid-19 vaccine myths

From CNN's Faye Chiu

A pharmacy technician prepares a vaccine dose for a patient in Torrance, California, on January 21.
A pharmacy technician prepares a vaccine dose for a patient in Torrance, California, on January 21. Mario Tama/Getty Images

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.

Read the full story here: