By Zahid Mahmood, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Hannah Strange, CNN
Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, January 28, 2021
4:00 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
More than 24.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the US, new CDC data shows
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
More than 24.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported that 24,652,634 total doses have been administered, or about 52% of the 47,230,950 doses distributed.
More than 20 million people have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, a benchmark that the Trump administration had previously said the United States would hit by the end of 2020.
More than 3.8 million people have been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
States have 72 hours to report vaccine data, so data published by the CDC may be delayed – and may not necessarily mean all doses were given on the day reported.
3:46 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
Rejoining WHO doesn't mean giving away US vaccines, Fauci says
From CNN’s Maggie Fox
The United States’ decision to rejoin the World Health Organization and its international coronavirus vaccine program does not mean giving away any doses of vaccines intended for Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
One of President Biden’s first acts was to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to leave WHO. Biden also said the US would take part in COVAX, an international system for making sure non-wealthy countries get some supplies of coronavirus vaccines.
Fox’s John Roberts asked Fauci if joining COVAX meant giving away vaccines for the US market.
“When we say we're joining COVAX, we're not saying we're giving them allocations that were our allocations,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We said we would participate in making sure that there's some equity globally for countries that can't afford it. There's a number of ways of doing that. One is to provide financial resources to the program to develop vaccines from other companies, or even the companies that we're dealing with, so we'll be able to get vaccine doses to them. It doesn't mean we're going to take the vaccine doses that were allocated to us and give to them.”
But if the US ends up with extra vaccines that are not needed, it might be in a position to donate some doses, said Fauci, who advised the Trump administration about the pandemic and who has stayed on to advise the Biden White House.
“So just make sure that the American public doesn't interpret that we'll take vaccine that was ready to go to New York and Chicago and give it to somebody else. That's not what we're talking about,” Fauci said.
3:18 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
Fauci stresses importance of staying ahead of new coronavirus variants
From CNN's Maggie Fox
Current coronavirus vaccines will work to protect people against the known coronavirus variants, but the medical and scientific community needs to stay ahead of emerging new types, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
Fauci said one variant, first seen in the UK and called B.1.1.7, did not seem to affect vaccine efficacy at all. Tests indicate another, first seen in South Africa, may somewhat interfere with vaccine response – but not enough to make a significant difference.
“It is diminished, somewhat, the capability of the vaccine to protect,” Fauci told Fox News. “But – and this is important — the vaccine still is effective against this strain that is in South Africa,” Fauci added. Fauci and other scientists have said that is because the body’s immune response after a vaccine is overwhelming enough to overcome any weakening.
“Having said that, we need to try and stay a few steps ahead of the game,” Fauci added.
The US needs to be ready for new mutants – variations of the virus – in case one does show up that affects vaccine efficacy, Fauci said. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are designed to be quick and easy to modify to match any new variants or strains.
2:57 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
“Constant vigilance” is the new normal, Fauci says
From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas
While the United States may return to some sense of normalcy in the second half of this year, people need to be prepared to respond to the coronavirus as it evolves, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
“If normal means not paying attention to anything, we're never going to go to that normal. To me that would be abnormal, because from now on, we've got to constantly be vigilant,” Fauci said in an interview with The Hill. “That to me is the new normal – constant vigilance.”
Responding to an evolving virus may necessitate changes to treatments and vaccines, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We have to be prepared that this will be an elusive virus, that we would have to make some modifications in our interventions, whatever they may be – an upgraded vaccine, different types of monoclonal antibodies,” he said.
“So yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Fauci added. “We will begin to approach some degree of normality as we get into the late fall of this year, as we get into the winter, but we've got to keep our eye on it and our pressure on it. Otherwise it could slip away from us.”
2:31 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
Coronavirus variants are impacting tests, FDA official says
From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas
Coronavirus variants popping up across the US are beginning to affect tests for the virus, the US Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
The agency said it is asking test developers to ensure their tests can detect the virus as it continues to mutate, an FDA official said.
“We are starting to see mutations to impact tests,” Dr. Timothy Stenzel, director of the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, said during a briefing.
“There may be a performance difference going forward,” he added.
Stenzel said that Covid-19 tests are being developed that will consider new variants.
“We are going to start beginning to ask developers how they think they can monitor for variants of concern,” he said.
“At least for key variants, we're going to start wanting to know if there's any loss of sensitivity with those variants,” he added.
Stenzel said the FDA will stay vigilant in monitoring how variants impact the performance of Covid-19 tests and encouraged test developers to do the same.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that 308 cases of a variant first identified in Britain and known as B.1.1.7 have been seen in 26 states so far.
2:02 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
CDC watching to see if new Covid-19 variants cause more cases of rare complication in children
From CNN’s Jen Christensen
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it does not know if the new Covid-19 variants are causing more cases of a rare complication in children called MIS-C.
MIS-C, which stands for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, is a troubling complication of Covid-19 infection that can cause heart damage and typically shows up about three weeks after a child has been infected. Many MIS-C cases follow a Covid-19 infection that had no symptoms.
While children are much less likely than adults to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19, children are as just as likely as adults to become infected. About 2.68 million children in the US have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the number of infections has increased recently. The CDC says that as of the end of December there were at least 1,659 reported cases of MIS-C.
If the Covid-19 variants are more contagious, then there is a chance that there could be more instances of MIS-C, but the CDC said it does not have the evidence yet to determine if the variants are leading to more cases.
“All I can say right now is we don’t know,” Dr. Angela Campbell, a CDC medical officer with the Influenza Division, told a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
“We are very interested in that question,” Campbell said, adding that the CDC is encouraging public health departments to be on the look out for cases.
Campbell said the CDC has heard from a handful of states that have said they are seeing more MIS-C cases, but it’s unclear if that is due to the overall surge in Covid-19 cases or if it is related to the variant.
“It’s just not possible to figure that out right now,” Campbell said.
Some context: MIS-C has disproportionately affected children of color. There is a six-fold higher incidence of MIS-C among Black children relative to White children. Hispanic children are four times as likely to develop MIS-C and Asian Pacific Islander children are three times as likely to develop the condition as White children, Campbell said.
Children recover with prompt treatment. The CDC advises that parents or caregivers contact a doctor right away if kids have fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes or extra tiredness.
2:16 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
New York governor says there are 42 known cases of the UK Covid-19 variant reported across the state
From CNN's Ganesh Setty
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced Wednesday there are currently 42 known cases of the highly-contagious UK variant statewide across nine counties and New York City.
“We don’t know what exactly what is going on with the new strains. And the concept of not knowing is very troubling for me,” Cuomo continued.
So far, the state has collected roughly 2,800 samples for genomic testing since early December, Zucker added.
Cuomo noted how the real “nightmare scenario” is not necessarily community spread of this new variant, but evidence of a vaccine-resistant viral mutation.
Nevertheless, the governor reiterated that the state will change its policies based on the present facts.
“If the facts change, I have no problem looking the people in the eye and saying ‘the facts changed, our plan has to change,’” he said.
1:32 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
New federal move will add to list of people who can administer coronavirus vaccines
From CNN’s Maggie Fox
The federal government is amending rules to help broaden the list of people who can administer coronavirus vaccines, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Wednesday.
States have been exploring ways to temporarily license more people to give out vaccine, and Zients said the US Health and Human Services Department would act to make that easier. The hope is to speed up vaccination rates.
“HHS will amend the current Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act – otherwise known as the PREP Act – to permit doctors and nurses who have recently retired or become inactive to administer shots, and to permit anyone currently licensed to vaccinate in their state to administer shots across state lines,” Zients told a White House coronavirus briefing.
“As the President said, we need to increase the number of places people can get vaccinated. And at the same time increase the number of vaccinators. This action by HHS will help get more vaccinators in the field," he added.
1:21 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021
Republican governor praises Biden team for vaccine allocation response
From CNN's John Harwood
At the Biden administration’s first coronavirus briefing today, adviser Andy Slavitt said “we hear you” in response to Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan’s call for increased coronavirus vaccine supply.
Hogan has answered in kind, praising the improvement in responsiveness on the crisis from Biden’s administration compared to Trump’s. Yesterday, Biden Covid coordinator Jeff Zients had informed the nation’s governors on a call that they could expect a 16% boost in vaccine support for the next three weeks.
“Governors appreciated that precision,” a Hogan aide told CNN. “Shows increased attention to detail and planning.”