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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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.

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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.

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7:42 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

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

From CNN's  Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden said Monday that he expects the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day, raising the bar by roughly 500,000 more vaccinations than its target of 1 million per day in his first 100 days in office. He said that 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, clarifying that he was referring to 100 million shots, not necessarily 100 million people, since some of the vaccines require more than one shot.

Biden said the key factors in ramping up vaccinations are having enough vaccine, having enough syringes and other necessary equipment and having enough people administering them. He said his administration is working to produce additional vaccinators -- people who can administer the vaccine.

"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 1.5 million a day, rather than 1 million a day," he said.

Scaling up: Biden's announcement came the same day that officials for Pfizer and Moderna said it will take time to scale up manufacturing for their vaccines.

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

"That's the frustrating thing about scaling up," Hoge said.

The increase in vaccinations will not necessarily move the target timeline for getting vaccines to anyone in the US who wants one.

The President said that he thinks anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it by this spring, a target date similar to one set under the Trump administration.

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