February 3 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Jo Shelley, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021
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11:22 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Fauci suggests Johnson & Johnson vaccine could get emergency use authorization in next two weeks 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A pharmacy technician prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for a clinical trial in Aurora, Colorado, on December 15.
A pharmacy technician prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for a clinical trial in Aurora, Colorado, on December 15. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate got emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration within the next two weeks.

“The J&J data right now, that we discussed last week, is being reviewed with the FDA right now, so we could see literally within a week or so that they wind up getting the kind of emergency use authorization,” he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie Wednesday. “I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA, but I would not be surprised, Savannah, if this happens within the next week or two.” 

Johnson & Johnson will be the third company to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA for a coronavirus vaccine. 

For the Pfizer vaccine, it took a little over three weeks from the time the company submitted its data to an EUA.

For the Moderna vaccine, it took a little more than two weeks. 

10:53 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

UNICEF announces deal for 1.1 billion vaccine doses for world's poorest countries

From CNN’s Christopher Rios

A health worker holds up a vial of Covishield, AstraZeneca-Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine, in Yangon, Myanmar, on January 27.
A health worker holds up a vial of Covishield, AstraZeneca-Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine, in Yangon, Myanmar, on January 27. Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images

In a news briefing on Wednesday, UNICEF announced new a deal with Serum Institute of India to access 1.1 billion doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford and Novavax vaccines at approximately $3 per dose for the poorest countries. 

“This is a great value for COVAX doners,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “And a strong demonstration of one of the fundamental principles of COVAX.” 

COVAX is a partnership co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The UNICEF announcement comes as COVAX prepares to distribute 337 million vaccine doses to the world’s most in-need countries as part its first interim distribution forecast. 

10:35 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Here are the states that are testing the most for Covid-19 variants

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 test to a motorist in San Francisco, California, on January 9.
A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 test to a motorist in San Francisco, California, on January 9. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Only six US states have genetically sequenced more than 1% of their total coronavirus cases during the pandemic, compared to a national average just over 0.3%, according to data posted this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These states include Hawaii (2.8%), Washington (2.1%), Maine (1.7%), Wyoming (1.6%), Utah (1.5%) and Oregon (1.2%).

Meanwhile, nearly half of states have sequenced less than one tenth of one percent of their confirmed cases – 24 in total.

These are the states who preformed the highest raw number of genetic sequences:

  • Texas: More than 15,000
  • California: More than 11,000
  • New York: About 7,600

Fourteen states report fewer than 100 sequences each.

These numbers come from sequences in a publicly accessible database from January 2020 to January 2021 and may not represent the full number of samples that have been analyzed.

US labs have submitted 92,000 sequences of the coronavirus – around 0.3% of total cases – to a genomics database known as GISAID. In comparison, the UK has submitted nearly 197,000 – just over 5% of its total cases.

The US has been ramping up its sequencing efforts and is on track to process at least 7,000 samples per week, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Experts have previously told CNN that the US should aim to sequence 5% to 10% of cases, in line with sequencing efforts in the UK. Given cases over the past seven days, this would amount to roughly 50,000 to 100,000 sequences in a week.

10:14 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

New York City health commissioner tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

New York City Health Commissioner David Chokshi has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing “manageable,” “mild” symptoms, he said in a statement Wednesday.

He has been in touch with the city’s Test and Trace Corps to ensure that anyone who may have been potentially exposed is offered services and care.

“This is a reminder – if we ever needed one – that COVID is still with us and we all must continue to wear masks, wash our hands, socially distance and stay home if feeling ill,” Chokshi said in a statement.

10:37 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Nicaragua issues emergency use authorization for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

From CNN's Jaide Garcia and Claudia Rebaza 

Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.
Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS/Getty Images

Nicaragua has issued emergency use authorization for Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, according to a statement published by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Wednesday. 

Nicaragua is the sixth country in Latin America to register for the vaccine after Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay and Mexico.

According to RDIF's statement, some of the benefits of using the Sputnik V vaccine are that it can be stored in a conventional refrigerator and costs less than $10 per shot, making it "affordable around the world." 

In the statement from RDIF, CEO Kirill Dmitriev said "High efficacy, safety, easy distribution and affordability allow regulatory authorities around the world to include Sputnik V in their national vaccine portfolio." 

10:19 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Switzerland declines authorization of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

A nurse practitioner prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Crewe, England, on January 14.
A nurse practitioner prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Crewe, England, on January 14. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Switzerland declined to authorize the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, saying data submitted by AstraZeneca was "not yet sufficient to permit authorisation" of the vaccine.

"To obtain more information about safety, efficacy and quality, additional data from new studies are needed," Swissmedic said in a statement Wednesday.

"The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks. To obtain a conclusive assessment, the applicant will among other things have to submit additional efficacy data from a Phase III trial under way in North and South America, and these will have to be analysed. As soon as the results have been received, a temporary authorisation according to the rolling procedure could be issued at very short notice," the statement added. 

In a preprint posted Tuesday by researchers at the University of Oxford, the Covid-19 vaccine showed 66.7% efficacy against symptomatic disease starting two weeks after the second shot. Oxford researchers also suggested the vaccine may reduce transmission of the virus, rather than simply reducing the severity of disease. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie earlier today that he hadn't seen the data himself. However he added that if the data from the vaccine preprint bears out, it’s good news because it adds another vaccine against Covid-19 into the mix.

10:39 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine data is good news and it signals another vaccine is in the mix, Fauci says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that if data from an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine preprint bears out, it’s good news because it adds another vaccine against Covid-19 into the mix.

Fauci said that he hadn’t seen that data yet and noted that it had not been peer-reviewed. 

In the preprint posted Tuesday by researchers at the University of Oxford, the Covid-19 vaccine showed 66.7% efficacy against symptomatic disease starting two weeks after the second shot. Oxford researchers also suggested the vaccine may reduce transmission of the virus, rather than simply reducing the severity of disease. 

“I certainly have every reason to believe the Brits, but I’d like to see the data myself,” he said.

However, if it is true that it stops transmission, Fauci said on Today Wednesday, “that’s good news, you know, yet again another vaccine candidate in the mix.” 

Fauci referenced other recent vaccine news, including the Russia’s vaccine, which yesterday was reported to have over 90% efficacy, and the Johnson and Johnson candidate, which released promising results last week. 

“As we’re going on, getting into February now we’re going to have multiple candidates in the mix, which is good news,” he said. 

 

10:13 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

US isn’t vaccinating at a fast enough pace to keep ahead of new variants, Fauci says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Medical staff administer Covid-19 vaccines at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on February 1.
Medical staff administer Covid-19 vaccines at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on February 1. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on the Today Show Wednesday, that the United States isn’t vaccinating people fast enough to stay ahead of new variants, but the supply is improving.

Fauci said it’s “certainly a possibility” that new strains of the coronavirus could become dominant in the US. The way to prevent further mutation of the virus, is to suppress the replication of the virus, he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

“The best way to do that is twofold,” he said. Double down on public health measures to prevent person to person spread and get as many people as possible vaccinated. 

“The more people that are protected from infection, the less opportunity you give to the virus to mutate,” he said. “It can’t mutate if it doesn’t replicate, so you the more you suppress it, the less it does.” 

When Guthrie asked if the US was vaccinating at a pace that was fast enough to keep ahead of the new variants, Fauci said “we’re getting better and better, but Savannah, we’re not, because the situation is we still have a demand that far exceeds the supply.” 

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it would begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to pharmacies starting Feb. 11. Fauci said this is good news. 

“If you get pharmacies to distribute, if you get community vaccine centers to distribute and then later on we’ll probably have mobile units to get out there, but we’ve got to get the steady supply of vaccines so that we can put it in people’s arms,” he said.  

The more companies that give vaccine data that looks like they’ll be able to get in the mix of vaccines, “the better we are.” 

“The more companies, the more vaccines, the more vaccines, the more people get protected, he said.

9:21 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

CDC’s ensemble forecast now projects up to 534,000 US Covid-19 deaths by Feb. 27

From CNN's Ben Tinker

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 496,000 to 534,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Feb. 27.

Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future.

The previous ensemble forecast, published Jan. 27, projected up to 514,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 20.

At least 446,910 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.