February 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021
32 Posts
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12:06 p.m. ET, February 2, 2021

New York City has identified 13 cases of UK Covid-19 variant, health official says

New York City has identified 13 cases of the B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant, also known as the UK variant, according to Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city health commissioner.

No cases of other variants have yet been found in New York City, but Chokshi said Tuesday that city authorities are “monitoring the situation very closely and are carefully learning from public health colleagues around the world.”

On Tuesday, the city reported an 8.20% positivity rate, with 4,585 new cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

At least 206 new Covid-19 patients were admitted to the city’s hospitals, but de Blasio said hospitalizations were overall trending downward.

Note: These numbers were released by New York City authorities and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

12:16 p.m. ET, February 2, 2021

Pfizer says it expects to deliver 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to the US by end of May

From CNN's Amanda Sealy

Dr. Yomaris Pena extracts the last bit of a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine out of a vial at a vaccination site in New York on January 15.
Dr. Yomaris Pena extracts the last bit of a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine out of a vial at a vaccination site in New York on January 15. Mary Altaffer/AP

Pfizer said it expects to deliver 200 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the United States by the end of May, according to slides published for its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings teleconference on Tuesday. 

The company was originally slated to deliver the 200 million doses by July 31, but Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week he expected the company’s production to be ahead of schedule by two months.  

“In the US, we had promised to provide 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter and we will be able to provide 120 right now,” Bourla said last week. “The same is with second quarter. We were planning to provide them all the way to 200 million doses by the end of the second quarter, actually beginning of the third. Right now, we will be able to provide the 200 million doses two months earlier.” 

The Biden administration has also announced it will be purchasing an additional 100 million doses from the company. 

As of Jan. 31, Pfizer says it has supplied 20 million doses to the US.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 17,364,398 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered.

11:58 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

NFL says 25,000 fans in attendance for Super Bowl on Sunday will receive free PPE kits

From CNN’s Dan Kamal and Jill Martin

In a sign of the pandemic times, the NFL has announced all 25,000 fans in attendance at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, Sunday will receive PPE kits, including face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

According to a Twitter post from league spokesperson Brian McCarthy Tuesday, all personnel and fans who attend the game will be required to wear face coverings while inside Raymond James Stadium.

Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league would allow 22,000 fans at Super Bowl LV. McCarthy clarified Tuesday, saying the 22K figure did not include those attending in stadium suites.

The game is sold out according to McCarthy.

The NFL donated 7,500 Super Bowl LV tickets to vaccinated health care workers in the Tampa area, with all teams in the league allotted tickets for vaccinated health care workers in their region. Another 14,500 club seat and general admission tickets have been sold, along with nearly 3,000 going to suite holders.

The NFL says the game is sold out based on the Covid-19 attendance restrictions.

See the NFL's tweet:

11:42 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

Coronavirus strain in UK picks up mutation that could impact vaccines, experts say

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman and Nina Avramova

A mutation that could allow Covid-19 to escape antibody protection has now been found in samples of a rapidly spreading strain in the UK, according to a report by Public Health England on Monday.

The mutation, called E484K, was already part of the genetic signature of variants linked to South Africa and Brazil. 

According to the PHE report, the mutation has been newly detected in at least 11 samples of the UK’s B.1.1.7 strain. It also appears some of these samples may have acquired this mutation independently, instead of spreading from a single case.

This could mean a variant already known to be more transmissible also risks becoming somewhat resistant to the immune protection offered by vaccines, or more likely to cause reinfection among people who were previously infected, experts say. 

“This doesn’t appear to be great news for vaccine efficacy,” said Joseph Fauver, associate research scientist in epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. 

He added the new finding is also something to keep monitoring in the US, where efforts to look for variants through genetic sequencing have lagged behind the UK. The fact that we’ve only seen this in the UK “may be a result of their robust genomic surveillance program,” Fauver said.

Experts say it’s too early to predict whether this development will greatly impact the trajectory of Covid-19 in the UK and around the world. 

Previous studies suggest that E484K may be the key culprit behind why certain vaccines appear less effective in South Africa. Lab research has also shown that antibodies appear less able to bind and neutralize spike proteins arising from the mutation.

Novavax recently announced its vaccine was 89% effective in its Phase 3 UK trial, but only appeared 60% effective in a separate Phase 2b study conducted in South Africa. Similarly, in Johnson & Johnson’s Phase 3 trial, efficacy differed by country: 72% in the US versus 57% in South Africa. In both trials, 90 to 95% of cases in South Africa were linked to the B.1.351 variant, which contains the E484K mutation

Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Rockefeller University, noted that the E484K mutation has “appeared sporadically” in multiple samples for months, but until recently it didn’t appear to offer the virus an advantage in populations with no preexisting immunity. 

But it’s a different story in places like South Africa, where many people had been previously infected. On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci noted “a very high rate of reinfection to the point where previous infection does not seem to protect you,” citing the work of colleagues in South Africa.

The B.1.1.7 strain first spotted in the UK has now been found in at least 70 countries worldwide, including about 470 known cases in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say that aggressive testing, adhering to Covid-19 guidelines and rapidly rolling out vaccines are more important than ever in light of these spreading variants.

"We need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can,” Fauci previously said. “Even though there is a diminished protection against the variants, there's enough protection to prevent you from getting serious disease, including hospitalization and deaths.” 

11:49 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

Americans are more concerned about Covid-19 variants than opening schools, Axios-Ipsos poll finds

From CNN's Ashley Ahn

Stools are stacked on desks inside an empty classroom at Collins Elementary School in Pinole, California, on December 30, 2020.
Stools are stacked on desks inside an empty classroom at Collins Elementary School in Pinole, California, on December 30, 2020. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Americans are concerned about new Covid-19 variants and worrying less about sending children back to school, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll published Tuesday.

The latest poll found 83% of people sampled reported that they are at least somewhat concerned new strains may be more contagious, while about 33% among them said they are “extremely” concerned. Over half of Americans are “extremely or very concerned” about the new strains. The poll reports that Americans across age, race, and party share this concern. 

Only 26% of people polled expect life to return to pre-Covid normal by July, and 30% anticipate it will take more than a year. Another 8% said “never.”

Reflecting a similar timeline, 21%, 25%, and 18% of Americans expect the Covid-19 vaccine to be available in the next three, six or more than six months, respectively. 

Compared to the late August Axios-Ipsos poll reporting that 74% of Americans had some level of concern about schools reopening, the figure has since dropped to 59%, with only one-third feeling “extremely or very concerned,” down from half. 

The poll, which gathered data from 1,038 US adults from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, suggests that many Americans across partisan lines are wary of the new strains. Yet, concerns that the new strains may be more transmissible or dangerous are also bipartisan with 95%, 82%, and 71% of Democrats, independents and Republicans, respectively, concerned about new strains. 

Only 15% of Americans — who skew older and Democratic — said they are wearing two masks some or all of the time in public as an extra layer of protection.

11:29 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

100-year-old UK fundraising hero Tom Moore dies of Covid-19

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London 

Captain Tom Moore, the World War II veteran who raised millions for a British charity supporting the National Health Service, has died, his daughters told PA Media in a statement on Tuesday.

Moore shot to fame by walking laps of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise money for the NHS. He raised nearly $40 million at the time and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July.

His official Twitter account said also shared the news with an image of Moore, and the dates 1920-2021.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” the statement, from his daughters Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeira to PA Media said.

"We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime. We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother. We shared laughter and tears together,” the statement added.

He had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and pneumonia, his daughter Hannah said on Twitter Sunday.

Moore was taken to the hospital on Sunday because of breathing problems, his daughter said at the time.

11:36 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Dan Merica

Andrew Yang speaks in New York on January 18.
Andrew Yang speaks in New York on January 18. Lev Radin/Sipa USA/AP

New York City Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has tested positive for Covid-19 today after taking a rapid test, according to a statement from his campaign on Tuesday. Yang, who also ran for president in 2020, said he is experiencing mild symptoms but is in "good spirits."

“After testing negative as recently as this weekend, today I took a COVID rapid test and received a positive result. I am experiencing mild symptoms, but am otherwise feeling well and in good spirits. I will quarantine in accordance with public health guidelines and follow the advice of my doctor," Yang said in the release. 

Roughly two weeks ago, CNN reported that Yang was quarantining after potentially being exposed to Covid-19 from a campaign staffer. 

2:29 p.m. ET, February 2, 2021

Dr. Fauci warns against administering only the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN Health’s Ashley Ahn

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with reporters at the White House on January 21.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with reporters at the White House on January 21. Alex Brandon/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned against administering just the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines in order to inoculate as many people as possible. 

“The danger is that the efficacy following a single dose is not as great as after the second dose. And if you have some optimum efficacy, you could in fact paradoxically be selecting for more mutations,” Fauci said during a Washington Post Live event.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday that as many people as possible over the age of 65 should be given their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of a possible surge in cases due to more transmissible variants.

This strategy could delay second doses and would go against the optimum approach to Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations.

Fauci said while the idea “isn’t completely outlandish,” the solution to a limited supply of doses and new coronavirus variants is not to administer single doses, but to ramp up the availability of vaccine doses not only of Moderna and Pfizer, but also new candidates, such as Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and Oxford-AstraZeneca, among others.

“The best way to prevent the evolution of mutations is to suppress the replication of the virus in the community, which means that we need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as we possibly can do it, as efficiently as we possibly can,” Fauci said. 

10:47 a.m. ET, February 2, 2021

States have mixed response to White House's guidance on not holding back vaccine doses

From CNN's Kristen Holmes 

A day after the White House coronavirus task force cautioned providers not to hold back first doses of Covid-19 vaccine for later use as potential second doses, some states and providers remain hesitant to comply, worried about future supply when second doses come due.

One state official told CNN that the state is telling providers not to use all their doses now, and instead hold back for second-dose use.

An official in another state said it is encouraging providers to follow White House guidance, but is getting pushback from providers over supply concerns. 

It is ultimately up to states how they use their allocations of vaccine.