January 27 coronavirus news

By Zahid Mahmood, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 28, 2021
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9:08 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Catch up: Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around Europe

From CNN's Sarah Dean

A medical staff member draws the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at NHS Nightingale North East hospital in Sunderland, England, on January 26.
A medical staff member draws the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at NHS Nightingale North East hospital in Sunderland, England, on January 26. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Europe continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic as the disagreement over vaccines continue. Here are some of the key lines from the continent today:

  • The row continues over vaccine supplies in the European Union where AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot defended their decision prioritize vaccine deliveries to the UK.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the United Kingdom would introduce government-provided accommodation (e.g. hotels) for 10 days for those who cannot be refused entry into the UK from high-risk countries. This comes as the country reached the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths – the first country in Europe to do so.
  • France's pharmaceutical giant Sanofi entered an agreement with German biotech company BioNTech to help produce its vaccine.
  • Today marks a grim year since coronavirus struck in Germany, where the first case was registered at a Bavarian company. The country shows no signs of reduced infections as two hospitals in a Bavarian town are now under self-quarantine as 11 people are potentially carrying the UK coronavirus variant.
  • Ireland has extended the national lockdown until March 5, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin who also announced new regulations to contain coronavirus, which include a 14-day mandatory quarantine for those traveling from South Africa and South America.
9:01 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

"Supply-demand imbalance" is biggest challenge with vaccinations, New Jersey governor says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on January 27.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on January 27. CNN

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the state’s biggest challenge is “supply-demand imbalance” with vaccinations.

Murphy called the Biden administration's plans to increase states' Covid-19 vaccine allocations a "step in the right direction"

"It's not enough," Murphy said in an interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota this morning, "but it is a big step in the right direction."

He said that there are more than two million New Jerseyans pre-registered for vaccines, and the state is set to receive about 130,000 vaccine doses per week right now. The state opened up a call center on Monday and got 17,000 calls in the first hour, he said.

“We’re still going to be chopping through that for some number of weeks to come,” he said. 

Murphy said teachers are in the “on-deck circle” for vaccinations. 

“I think [as] we get more supply, as soon as we can get there, I think educators are next up to bat,” he said. 

Murphy said that there are many schools with hybrid learning in the state, and recognized reopening schools fully as a “tough” decision to tackle. 

“There's an enormous amount of stress and anxiety, and I completely get it, on everyone's part — educators, parents, the kids themselves,” he said. 

“I think we're starting to see the light at the end of the horizon,” he added. “I think this is now going in the right direction. It's slow, admittedly. But it's beginning without question, and it's steady, slowly but surely going to the right place.”

Watch:

9:28 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Madrid suspends vaccination program due to lack of supply

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are on a table at Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid on January 14.
Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are on a table at Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid on January 14. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The regional government of Madrid has decided to stop administering first doses of Covid-19 vaccine for the next two weeks due to growing uncertainty over the supply situation.

Ignacio Aguado, regional vice-president, told a news conference Wednesday that priority would be given to providing a second dose to those who had received a first dose at the end of December and the beginning of January. 

"We need more doses urgently," Aguado said. 

Madrid has completed the vaccination of just 2% of those who received a first dose, far lower than most of Spain's regions. Severe weather earlier this month in the Spanish capital hampered the roll-out of the vaccination program.

Several Spanish regions have complained to the central government about uncertainty over supplies. 96% of the doses distributed – largely of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine – have already been administered. 

The daily Health Ministry figure for the number of doses distributed has been static for the last week at 1,346,000 doses.

9:31 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

UK prime minister announces 10-day quarantine in government accommodation

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London on January 27.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London on January 27. Leon Neal/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK government was introducing government-provided accommodations, for example hotels, for 10 days for those who cannot be refused entry into the UK from high-risk countries. 

“It is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes. And we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home. If they do not have a valid reason to travel. We have also banned all travels from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants, including South Africa, Portugal, and South American nations,” Johnson said. 

“And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries. I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government provided accommodation, such as hotels for 10 days without exception, they will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The department for health and social care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible. And by right one roof in the Home Secretary will set out the details of our plans in her statement shortly.”

8:30 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Number of people flying in US hits six-month low, TSA data shows

From CNN's Pete Muntean

A TSA agent assists a traveler through a security checkpoint at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, on January 26.
A TSA agent assists a traveler through a security checkpoint at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, on January 26. Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register/Getty Images

The number of people flying on commercial airlines just hit a six-month low, with fewer than half a million passengers screened at US airports Tuesday. 

New figures, released by the Transportation Security Administration show 468,933 people were screened at TSA checkpoints nationwide. 

That number hasn’t dipped below 500,000 since July 4, 2020.

8:28 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Here's how to safely reopen schools, according to a vaccine expert

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A closed public school is pictured in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5.
A closed public school is pictured in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 5. Lan Wei/Xinhua/Getty Images

Dr. Paul Offit says he doesn’t think the US needs "to wait for vaccination” to get public schools back open.

“I think we have to be able to provide a mechanism whereby we can get those kids back into a public school setting where it can be done safely. It may require more money for those schools, but I definitely think we need to do it,” Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

Experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that with the right mitigation measures, there is a path to low-risk, in-person learning. In a paper published Tuesday, researchers noted that the kind of spread seen in crowded offices and long-term care facilities has not been reported in schools.

Offit, a member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, outlined strategies that school can implement.

“You try to have smaller classroom sizes, so-called pods. It's the teachers who move from one class to the other, not the students, so that you don't have these crowded hallways. You try to separate the desks as much as possible, you don't eat in a cafeteria … so you're not all sitting together with your masks off. There are a number of strategies that can be done,” he said. 

Offit added that he doesn’t think the Covid-19 variants play a role in reopening schools. 

9:03 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Beijing tightens Covid-19 restrictions for arrivals to city ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year

From CNN's Beijing bureau

Motorists travel along street decorated for the Chinese New Year in Beijing, China, on January 26.
Motorists travel along street decorated for the Chinese New Year in Beijing, China, on January 26. Yan Cong/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Beijing's municipal government has announced new measures for anyone entering the Chinese capital, aimed at curbing the spread of the virus during the Chinese Lunar New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival.

On Wednesday, spokesperson Xu Heijan said that from Thursday until March 15, anyone coming to Beijing from "low-risk areas in China" must show negative Covid-19 test results within seven days of arriving. The festival is celebrated in mid February.

On arrival, visitors must undergo 14 days of "health monitoring" and get tested on the seventh and fourteenth days of their stay. 

"Those who don’t plan on staying for more than 14 days in Beijing need to fulfill the health monitoring and nucleic test requirements based on the actual number of days they are in Beijing," Xu added.

During the "health monitoring" period, people can work and travel but cannot participate in group activities or gatherings. 

The new restrictions will be implemented "in order to minimize the risk of the spread of the virus caused by massive migration of people around the Spring Festival and to ensure that the citizens enjoy a happy and peaceful holiday," Xu said.

Some background: According to data from John Hopkins University, the total number of coronavirus cases in China currently stands at 99,605 since the start of the pandemic, with 4,811 deaths.

9:03 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Two hospitals in German state of Bavaria self-quarantine after tests indicate UK variant

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Claudia Otto

Medical staff walk towards the main entrance of a hospital in Bayreuth, Germany, on January 26.
Medical staff walk towards the main entrance of a hospital in Bayreuth, Germany, on January 26. Nicolas Armer/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images

Two hospitals in the German state of Bavaria have started self-quarantining on Wednesday after preliminary tests showed 11 people connected to the facilities were potentially carrying the UK coronavirus variant B1.1.7.

The two hospitals -- the Klinikum Bayreuth and Krankenhaus Hohe Warte -- located in the town of Bayreuth, east of Frankfurt, have stopped admitting new patients except those in a very serious condition.

Frank Schmälzle, head of press and public relations at the Klinikum Bayreuth, told CNN that a total of 3,300 staff from both hospitals are only allowed to commute between the facilities and their homes during the quarantine period.

Schmälzle said a total of 560 patients were being treated across both hospitals.

Professor Juergen Duner, chief medical officer at the laboratory Becker & Kollegen, meanwhile told CNN that there was a rise in the new coronavirus mutations B1.1.7 and B1.351 in the area of Munich, the Bavarian state capital.

“In less than three weeks, the proportion of variants in infections has risen sharply from 0.2 percent to 7 percent," Duner said.
"That in itself is a clear sign that the new variants are currently spreading very quickly.”

Some background: 

The move to self-quarantine the two hospitals comes just days after the Vivantes Humboldt-Klinikum hospital in Berlin was placed under quarantine following an outbreak among both patients and staff of the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK. 

On Tuesday, 24 cases of the UK variant were detected at the hospital -- in 13 patients and 11 members of staff, the hospital confirmed.

In a different Berlin hospital, the Klinikum Spandau, two additional cases have been identified in patients. 

7:23 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Rich countries jumping the queue for vaccines could leave "much of the world" behind, WHO chief warns

From CNN's Tim Lister

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is pictured at a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2020.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is pictured at a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has accused wealthy countries of trying to jump the queue in the distribution of vaccines -- and described equitable distribution around the world as both a moral imperative and essential for ending the pandemic. 

Tedros told a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on Wednesday that "the promise of equitable access is at serious risk." 

"A me-first approach leaves the world's poorest and most vulnerable at risk," he said, and was also self-defeating. "Many countries have bought more vaccine than they need."
"We now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to those in wealthy countries, much of the world could be left behind," Tedros added. 

He said some companies and countries were making bilateral deals in an attempt to jump to the front of the queue. This was driving up prices and meant they were "going round" the COVAX mechanism, a WHO program which purchases vaccines in bulk for distribution to poorer countries.

75% of the doses distributed had been deployed in just ten countries, Tedros said, and it was not right that younger, healthy adults in rich countries could get the vaccine before health workers and older people in poorer countries. 

The emergence of new variants of Covid-19 has made the speedy and equitable roll-out of vaccines even more important, he added.

Some background: Tedros said WHO's COVAX program had secured contracts for two billion doses from five producers this year and has options for a further one billion doses into next year. The first deliveries of doses bought through the program should be made next month, he said.

However, Tedros continued, the WHO still needed funds to complete the purchases contracted for this year. COVAX needs access to those doses soon, not the "leftovers in many months from now," he said.

Read more on rich countries snapping up Covid vaccines supply here