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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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.

9:25 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Pharmacy vaccine strategy will “test the waters,” former Biden transition Covid-19 adviser says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Rick Bright speaks with CNN on Wednesday, February 3.
Rick Bright speaks with CNN on Wednesday, February 3. CNN

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it will begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies next week. The program will start at about 6,500 stores that will receive a total of 1 million doses before eventually expanding, according to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients.

“It’s a smart strategy because we have to figure out the kinks. It’s difficult to flood those pharmacies and those new outlets with a lot of vaccine and sort of crash the system up front,” Rick Bright, a former coronavirus adviser for the Biden transition team, said on CNN's 'New Day."  

“It’s better if we turn on the spigot, test out the system, make sure everything’s in place and robust, and then start increasing the vaccine that’s distributed to those outlets … We need to test the waters gently and then ramp up quickly,” Bright said. 

9:58 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Now is “"absolutely not" the time for Super Bowl parties, Fauci says

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Raymond James Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida.
Raymond James Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Good Morning America Wednesday that he hopes the Super Bowl will not become another superspreader event and that it is absolutely not the time to have watch parties. 

Speaking with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about whether the Super Bowl could become a superspreader event, Fauci said “I hope not.” If people abide by the public health measures — masking, distancing, avoiding congregate settings, and being outside and at a distance from others – Fauci said, “You could be OK, as long as people abide by that and don’t slip.” 

But now is “absolutely not” the time for Super Bowl parties.

“Watch the Super Bowl on TV, enjoy it, have a party in your house with your family, with the people who are there,” he said. “You don’t want parties with people that you haven’t had much contact with, you just don’t know if they’re infected. So as difficult as that is, at least this time around, just lay low and cool it.” 
9:01 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination can be accelerated without delaying the second dose, Fauci says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

A pharmacy technician prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a mass Covid-19 vaccination event on January 30, in Denver, Colorado.
A pharmacy technician prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a mass Covid-19 vaccination event on January 30, in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Good Morning America Wednesday that delaying second doses of Covid-19 vaccine so that as many people in the US can get a first dose is “not necessarily” what he recommends.

Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that it looks like there is going to be a much steadier supply or cadence of vaccines coming in through February and into March. 

“Certainly you don’t want vaccines sitting around in the refrigerator or in a freezer if they’re ready to go, you want to give them to people,” Fauci said. “But if you balance it well, George, you can get as many people in their first doses and then when the next shipment comes in, take care of the people that are about due for their second and then give more to the first.” 

“I think you can accelerate it without necessarily dramatically delaying the second dose,” Fauci said. “If you miss it by a few days to a week or two, I don’t think that’s a big problem, as the CDC says, but I’d be concerned about delaying it for three months or so.”

When asked about Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine data that found 76% efficacy up to three months following one dose and  possible higher efficacy among more spaced-out doses, Fauci reminded that this a different type of vaccine from the mRNA vaccines already in use in the United States.

“You got to be careful because you’re dealing with different vaccine platforms,” he said, adding that the data that is available for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines “are solid” about getting a second shot 28 days and 21 days later, respectively.  

“We know just from immunology in general that a little flexibility on either end of that is not going to be a big deal, however if you delay it longer you don’t know whether or not the efficacy is going to be maintained over a period of time, and you don’t know how low it’s going to go,” he said. 

9:03 a.m. ET, February 3, 2021

Lawmakers condemn "appalling" video of England's chief medical officer being verbally abused in the street

From CNN’s Samantha Tapfumaneyi

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty attends a coronavirus press conference at 10 Downing Street on January 22, in London, England.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty attends a coronavirus press conference at 10 Downing Street on January 22, in London, England. Leon Neal/Getty Images

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty was verbally abused in the street and called a liar, a video uploaded to TikTok on Tuesday showed.

In the video, a young man can be seen repeatedly telling Whitty he is a liar.

The TikTok account that posted the video has since been deleted.

Whitty has been at the forefront of Covid-19 pandemic as an adviser for the UK’s government, and regularly appears in press conferences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock condemned the video and told BBC Breakfast: “I think the individual concerned is pathetic. I think it’s ridiculous what he’s doing.”

Hancock praised Whitty, saying, “Chris Whitty is one of the greatest living scientists and his advice to the government, all the way through this, and his advice to all of us in the population has been incredibly, incredibly smart and thoughtful and he's a great asset to this nation.”

Matt Vickers, Conservative MP for Stockton South, also criticized the video via Twitter.

"This is appalling, I really can't believe this footage," Vickers wrote. "Chris Whitty is doing all he can to help guide us through this crisis and should never be subjected to this abuse."

UK Health Department told CNN that they are “worried that the more these videos circulate, the more it might encourage others to do the same thing.”