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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12:11 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Germany considering further travel restrictions and dramatic reduction in air traffic 

From CNN's Claudia Otto

A medical worker in Schönefeld, Germany, takes a Covid-19 swab sample from a passenger at a testing station in Berlin Brandenburg Airport on November 26, 2020.
A medical worker in Schönefeld, Germany, takes a Covid-19 swab sample from a passenger at a testing station in Berlin Brandenburg Airport on November 26, 2020. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Germany is considering further travel restrictions and a dramatic reduction in air traffic due to fears about new mutations of coronavirus, an Interior Ministry spokesperson told CNN.

The Interior Ministry is in talks with the German federal government to consider halting all unnecessary travel. 

"The threat posed by the numerous virus mutations requires us to also consider drastic measures and discuss them in the Federal Government," said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in a statement. "These include significantly stricter border controls, especially at the borders to high-risk areas, but also the reduction of air traffic to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing to prevent the introduction of the virus mutation."

"People expect us to protect them as best we can from an explosion in the number of infections," he added.

A decision at the national level could be considered if no satisfactory measures are decided at the EU level, according to the ministry. 

12:05 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Oklahoma is trying to return its hydroxychloroquine stockpile 

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Oklahoma state officials are trying to return the state's $2 million stockpile of hydroxychloroquine back to the medical distributer, according to Oklahoma Attorney General's Office Communications Director Alex Gerszewski. 

"We are working with the department of health to try to return the stockpile," Gerszewski confirmed to CNN in an email Thursday.  

Gerszewski did not provide further details on the effort. 

Some context: Hydroxychloroquine was initially pushed by former President Trump, but over the summer, the FDA reversed its emergency use authorization for the drug's use to treat Covid-19 after a series of studies showed not only that it did not help coronavirus patients but might be harmful, CNN has reported. 

On May 12, 2020, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt "enacted an Executive Order that removed all restrictions regarding prescriptions for Hydroxychloroquine," according to The Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy. 

Previously, the state had required a waiver for prescribing the drug to prevent shortages early on in the pandemic, according to Stitt's executive order back in March.  

CNN has reached out to the Oklahoma Department of Health but has not heard back. 

12:13 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

UK travel sector reacts to new hotel quarantine guidelines

From CNN’s Will Godley

An airplane passes over a hotel as it takes off from Heathrow Airport in London on January 25.
An airplane passes over a hotel as it takes off from Heathrow Airport in London on January 25. Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The UK’s travel sector reacted to new government quarantine guidelines outlined by Prime Minister Johnson earlier, saying battling Covid-19 is the top priority but it needs more government support to survive.

Earlier today Johnson announced the UK would be introducing government-provided accommodations, for example hotels, for 10 days for those who cannot be refused entry into the UK from high-risk countries. 

Heathrow Airport, the UK’s largest airport, said it fully backs any measures that protect public health but called for more fiscal aid

“Aviation will play a vital role in delivering the Government’s ambitions for Global Britain, levelling-up and a green recovery, but only if it survives – now we need 100% business rates relief, an extension to the furlough scheme and a roadmap to reopening borders safely,” said Heathrow in a statement to CNN.

The Airport Operators Association warned that these new measures are another blow to the industry adding that the public health benefit of the mandatory hotel quarantine remains to be seen, also echoing calls for more government action.

“The Australian and New Zealand governments have backed up their government-ordered aviation shutdowns with more than a billion dollars in combined aviation-specific support. It’s time the UK Government backed their tough stance on border with similar financial support for the industry hit hardest by that stance,” the Airport Operators Association said.

Separately, airline bosses from the UK’s biggest airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, Virgin, TUI, Loganair, and Jet2, have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister asking to discuss an “exit plan and a bespoke support package” to save the 1.56 million jobs at “immediate risk.”

“Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and longstanding businesses have gone to the wall," the UK’s Travel Association ABTA told CNN. 

12:20 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

It will "be months" before all Americans can get vaccines, White House Covid-19 adviser says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 Response Team, on January 27.
Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 Response Team, on January 27. White House

Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 Response Team, said it will "be months" before all Americans who want a Covid-19 vaccine can get one. 

“I want to level with the public that we're facing two constraining factors. The first is getting enough supply quickly enough, and the second is the ability to administer the vaccines quickly once they're produced and sent out to the sites,” Slavitt said.

“We are taking action to increase supply and increase capacity, but even so, it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” he added.

Slavitt said so far this week, the Biden administration has hit its initial target of one million vaccinations per day. That number of doses is “the floor, not the ceiling,” he said. 

The administration has delivered 47 million doses to states and long-term care facilities, yet 24 million doses have been administered, according to Slavitt. 

“Any stockpile that may have existed previously no longer exists. Our practice is to maintain a rolling inventory of two to three days of supply that we can use to supplement any shortfalls in production and to ensure that we are making deliveries as committed,” he said. 

Yesterday, Biden announced a series of measures aimed at ramping up coronavirus vaccine allocation and distribution, including the purchase of 200 million more vaccine doses and increased distribution to states by millions of doses next week.

With those additional doses, Biden said there would be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans —nearly the entire US population — by the end of summer or early fall.

Hear the administration's plan to increase vaccine supply:

11:49 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Bahrain and Oman tighten restrictions to curb the spread of new coronavirus variants

From CNN's Mostafa Salem

Two Arab Gulf nations, Bahrain and Oman, have reimposed restrictions across different sectors to control the spread of new coronavirus variants, government statements said on Wednesday. 

Bahrain suspended school attendance and banned indoor dining services for three weeks starting Sunday and called on citizens to limit gatherings and outings, the Health Ministry said.

“There will be an increase in the frequency of [coronavirus detection] tests and a strengthening of the contact tracing process,” the Bahraini deputy health minister, Waleed Al Manea said in a news conference. 

Bahrain had a strong vaccination campaign in December and early January, however the country is now waiting on new vaccines to arrive after this month’s shipment of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was delayed by the company, the Health Ministry said last week.

“Delays in vaccination deliveries around the world calls for more caution, and we ask everyone to increase their commitment, as we wait for the arrival of the vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile, Oman banned group events, including sport activities and suspended the opening of universities. It also advised citizens against foreign travel, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variants, state media said quoting a government statement.

“The [High Committee on Controlling Coronavirus] stresses that the situation related to the new coronavirus variants is extremely dangerous,” state-run Oman News Agency said.

Both nations have not clarified which coronavirus variants are spreading within their countries.

12:10 p.m. ET, January 27, 2021

This is what the Biden administration has done on Covid-19 so far

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 Response Team, on January 27.
Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 Response Team, on January 27. White House

President Biden was sworn in to office exactly one week ago on Jan. 20 and vowed to make tackling the Covid-19 pandemic his top priority.

Today, the White House Covid-19 response team gave their first briefing and Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the team, gave a recap of the Biden administration's actions on the virus so far.

Here's what he listed:

  1. Use of the Defense Production Act to increase the vaccine supply to states by 16%.
  2. Use of the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] to deploy more personnel and support state vaccination sites.
  3. Acquire low dead space syringes to get six doses out of Pfizer's vials.
  4. The United States plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses from Moderna and Pfizer this year.
  5. Create 100 community vaccination clinics to accelerate immunizations among Americans, including mobile clinics to reach remote areas for the administration's health equity goals.
  6. Supply more vaccines directly to pharmacies.
  7. Partner with community health centers to reach hard-hit communities.

"So far this week, we've been hitting our target of an average of 1 million vaccinations per day necessary to meet the President's early commitment to administer 100 million shots in 100 days," Slavitt said, adding that it would still take months before all Americans can get vaccines.

11:53 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Global Covid-19 cases decreased 15% in last week, WHO says

From CNN ’s Virginia Langmaid

Lancet Clinical Laboratories employees in Harare, Zimbabwe, secure samples after conducting Covid-19 tests at a St Anne's Hospital drive thru facility on January 22.
Lancet Clinical Laboratories employees in Harare, Zimbabwe, secure samples after conducting Covid-19 tests at a St Anne's Hospital drive thru facility on January 22. Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images

The number of new Covid-19 cases worldwide decreased by 15% over the last seven days, according to data from the World Health Organization. This is the largest decline in global new cases that has been reported over the course of the pandemic.

In its weekly epidemiological update, WHO said 4.1 million new Covid-19 cases were reported globally in the last week. This is the second week in a row to show a decline in global new cases. This metric hit its peak the week of Jan. 4, 2021.

New cases in the Americas accounted for more than half of all new cases worldwide last week, and the Americas reported 47% of global new deaths. The United States reported more than half of the total new cases counted in the Americas.

Europe reported the largest regional decline in new cases, and reported a 20% decrease in new cases over the last seven days

New cases in Africa declined by 16% in the last week. The largest change in deaths was in South East Asia and in the Western Pacific, which both saw new deaths decline by 5% in the last week.

11:43 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

First Biden Covid briefing rife with technical difficulties

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House Covid-19 Response Team during a briefing on January 27.
The White House Covid-19 Response Team during a briefing on January 27. White House

The first Covid-19 briefing of the Biden administration got off to an unfortunate start on Wednesday with multiple technical difficulties. The administration has repeatedly touted their transparency amid the enormous undertaking of getting the pandemic under control, but the briefing, which was conducted virtually via Zoom, had multiple audiovisual issues. 

As Covid-19 chief Jeff Zients began the call, his audio was intermittently audible.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also had issues with her line on mute. 

“Rochelle? Rochelle?” someone off-camera asked. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke for nearly a full minute while on mute, at which point the audio came on and he was informed of the issue. 

“Okay, so in other words, nobody has heard anything from me? Is that correct? A lot of really good stuff,” Fauci said, as he went on to repeat himself with his microphone on. 

11:46 a.m. ET, January 27, 2021

Risks of contracting Covid-19 are "much higher" than mild risks of vaccines, CDC director says

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Maegan Vazquez

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. White House

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, saying the risk of getting sick with the virus is higher than having an anaphylaxis reaction.

"I want to take a moment here to emphasize that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and they work. And this is backed up with data," Walensky said at the White House Covid-19 Response Team's first press briefing on Wednesday.

She said that based on recent data, there were 2.1 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses administered of the Moderna vaccine. For the Pfizer vaccine, data showed 6.2 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses.

"Let me be clear, these are rare, treatable outcomes and the Covid-19 vaccines are safe. It's also important to put this into context. The risk with getting sick with Covid-19 are much higher than the risk of allergy or anaphylaxis from the vaccine," she said.

"While anaphylaxis can be scary, there are effective treatments, and patients generally do quite well," she added.

Walensky also said it is important to remember that there may be some side effects with the vaccine, including things like feeling feverish or having muscle aches.

"These are all normal and expected part of getting a vaccine, especially the second dose. These symptoms mean your immune system is revving up and the vaccine is actually working," she said.

Some background: President Joe Biden announced a plan to buy 200 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna to fully vaccinate the American population by the end of summer or early fall of 2021.

Biden said on Monday that he expects that 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 one million per day in his first 100 days in office. He said that the US could surpass that initial target in about three weeks.

Hear from the CDC director: