February 4 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Jo Shelley, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
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7:48 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Atlético Madrid confirm fourth positive Covid-19 test within space of a week

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

The Atlético Madrid flag flies at half-staff in memory of Covid-19 victims at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 2, 2020.
The Atlético Madrid flag flies at half-staff in memory of Covid-19 victims at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 2, 2020. Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto/Getty Images

French forward Moussa Dembélé has become the fourth Atlético Madrid player to test positive for Covid-19 within the space of a week, the Spanish league leaders confirmed Thursday.

The club said in a statement that the forward, who joined the Madrid side on loan in January, was isolating at home in line with the league’s protocol.

Atlético announced just 24 hours earlier that club record signing João Felix had tested positive for Covid-19.

Last Saturday, defender Mario Hermoso and winger Yannick Carrasco were also confirmed to have returned positive results.

Atlético, who currently hold a 10-point lead at the top of the Spanish top-flight division with a game in hand, host Celta Vigo at home on Monday.

7:20 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Covid destroyed lives spent together. Now those left behind must say farewell by Zoom

From CNN's Mick Krever and Phil Black

Trish Skinner sits with her husband Peter at home in Northamptonshire as they watch her father's burial service over Zoom.
Trish Skinner sits with her husband Peter at home in Northamptonshire as they watch her father's burial service over Zoom. Christian Streib/CNN

Trish Skinner and her husband sit on a couch, flip open their iPad cover, and open Zoom. Skinner is attending her father's funeral. Dozens of relatives will join her on this call.

Around 100 miles away, near the southern English coast, someone holds up an iPhone as a coffin containing the body of Herbert John Tate, 103, is lowered into a wet, clay-lined grave.

The Zoom call is as much closure as Skinner, 72, can get -- at least for now.

"It's not how it's supposed to be," she says. "There's no interaction, physically. And that's the biggest thing that's missing during this terrible time."

Tate is one of the 2.25 million people around the world to have died after contracting the coronavirus. As well as taking the lives of their loved ones, the virus has robbed millions more of the chance to properly grieve, with funerals banned or limited to small numbers of socially distanced mourners to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.

Skinner is profoundly aware of the connection she has to others in her position. She recalls, earlier in the pandemic, seeing a news report on TV about a mass burial.

"I couldn't imagine how people must be feeling," she says. "And the fact that they're losing closer loved ones -- husbands and wives, children maybe -- and not be allowed to be with them. (They) must be absolutely distraught."

Read the full story:

5:36 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Most Germans say Covid-19 has not changed their lives much, survey finds

From CNN’s Christopher Rios

Chairs of a coffee shop are stacked in the empty town of Quedlinburg, Germany on February 3.
Chairs of a coffee shop are stacked in the empty town of Quedlinburg, Germany on February 3. Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance/Getty Images

A majority of Germans say life has not been significantly changed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center published Wednesday.

By comparison, 74% of Americans say the pandemic is affecting their everyday lives a great deal or a fair amount, up from 67% in June, the poll of 4,000 adults in the US, Germany, France and the UK found.

Majorities in France and the UK also reported their life has been impacted at least a fair amount due to Covid-19.

“Only in Germany do fewer than half of those surveyed say the coronavirus has changed their life, while 52% say their life has not changed much or not changed at all,” Pew said.

The survey also found that Germans overwhelmingly approve of their country’s handling of the pandemic, with 77% rating it as “good.” In France, 54% of those polled approve of their country’s handling and in Britain, 48% did.

Just 41% of Americans approve of how the country is handling the coronavirus pandemic. Asked simply whether the country is doing a bad or a good job, 58% of those polled came down in the “bad” category.

“In the US, 67% of those on the ideological right say the American handling of COVID-19 has been good, while just 13% on the ideological left say the same – a 54-point difference,” Pew said. The survey was conducted in December.

People in all four countries are optimistic about future pandemics. In the US, 67% say they feel optimistic about the country’s ability to handle future crises. In Germany, 77% do, 68% do in the UK and 60% do in France.

5:10 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

UK trial to test efficacy of mixing Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN’s Christopher Rios

The United Kingdom is launching the world’s first study examining whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for two-dose regimens.   

Participants in the study will be given the vaccine in alternating doses -- for example, Oxford/AstraZeneca for the first dose and Pfizer/BioNTech for the second.  

“If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clue as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains,” said Matthew Snape, chief investigator and associate professor in vaccinology at the University of Oxford. 

Enrollment in the UK government-funded study is currently underway and preliminary results are expected over the summer. 

The current vaccine dosing regimen for the general public will remain unchanged in the UK. But if the study shows promising results, the government may consider revising the recommended vaccine regimen. 

“Nothing will be approved for use more widely than the study, or as part of our vaccine deployment program, until researchers and the regulator are absolutely confident the approach is safe and effective” said minister of Covid-19 vaccine development Nadhim Zahawi.

Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization do not recommend interchanging coronavirus vaccines, since there is no data available that examines whether doing so would still provide the same level of protection.

 

4:46 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Global Covid-19 vaccine confidence is rising, survey shows

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A general view of the resting area in Newbridge Leisure Centre gym which is being used as a vaccine hub in Newbridge, Wales on February 2.
A general view of the resting area in Newbridge Leisure Centre gym which is being used as a vaccine hub in Newbridge, Wales on February 2. Huw Fairclough/Getty Images

Global vaccine confidence is rising according to a new survey showing that 54% of respondents across 15 countries would take a Covid-19 vaccine if one was offered to them.

The survey by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London revealed that by mid-January, willingness to get vaccinated increased in 11 of the 15 countries since November, when 41% of respondents said they would get vaccinated. 

“It is very encouraging to see that as a number of safe and effective coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out across the world, there has been an apparent positive shift in people’s perceptions of these products,” Dr. David Nabarro, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said in a statement.

The UK had the highest share of respondents who strongly agreed they would get a vaccine, 70%. On the other end of the spectrum was France, with 30% – although that number has doubled since November, when just 15% of French respondents strongly agreed.

France also had the highest percentage of respondents who strongly agreed that they are worried about vaccine side effects, 40%. However, concern over potential vaccine side effects has decreased since November in most countries surveyed, with 47% of all respondents saying they are worried about side effects. 

Over half of those surveyed, 58%, believe government health authorities will deliver an effective Covid-19 vaccine – with the share of respondents who strongly agree increasing in 11 countries since November.

The results suggest that access to Covid-19 vaccines is a challenge. About 54% of respondents said it would be difficult to get a vaccine, with people in South Korea and Japan reporting the greatest difficulties in access. 

“As vaccines will play a vital role in controlling the pandemic, leaders must act now to help more people understand the benefits of being vaccinated against Covid-19 and make sure that no one is left behind,” Nabarro said.

The countries included in the survey were:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Read the full story here:

 

4:06 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Western Australia reports no new cases for fourth straight day of lockdown

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Western Australia has reported zero new locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases for the fourth day in a row, according to State Premier Mark McGowan.

This comes four days after the premier announced a hard lockdown for Perth metropolitan area and the Peel and South West regions of the state after a hotel security guard tested positive for Covid-19.

"I can confirm this morning that WA has recorded a fourth straight day with no new local cases of COVID-19 detected," the state premier tweeted Thursday. 

The state saw a record number of people who tested for the virus on the first day of the lockdown and McGowan said the testing numbers remain high.

"I have a very important ask as we approach the end of our short-sharp lockdown - if you have any symptoms, PLEASE GET TESTED," McGowan tweeted.

The state's lockdown, which covers more than 2 million people, is set to expire Friday.

3:33 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

The US coronavirus death toll could reach 530,000 this month. That would be one every minute of the pandemic

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

There could be up to 534,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States by February 27, according to an ensemble forecast by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- which would amount to about one death for every minute of the pandemic.

The US recorded its first death from coronavirus on February 29, and since then the toll has reached at least 450,681 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Variants and vaccines: Wednesday's forecast of another 80,000 people dying over this month comes as health experts race to ramp up vaccinations to get ahead of the more transmissible variant strains, which they fear could send cases surging once again.

The best way to prevent variants from dominating the pandemic, said director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, is to prevent the replication of the virus through quick vaccination and health measures to prevent spread.

Currently, the US is not vaccinating at a rate fast enough to get ahead of the variants, he said, but "we're getting better and better," Fauci told NBC News on Wednesday.

The number of variants in the US and how quickly they are spreading can be difficult for researchers to trace because of the amount of genetic sequencing it takes throughout the country, according to New York City's health adviser Jay Varma.

"I think the safest thing to do is for us to plan on the assumption that there are a lot more cases than the variants than we know about," Varma said.

Read the full story:

3:23 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Prisoners in Massachusetts are getting their Covid-19 vaccines — and reduced sentences

From CNN's Maria Morava and Saba Hamedy

Prisoners in Massachusetts have a special incentive to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

If they receive both doses, watch and read educational materials and submit a form for approval, they could shorten their sentence, the Department of Corrections said in a memo.

The incentive is made possible by a Massachusetts law, which states that prisoners are "eligible to earn deductions from sentences and completion credits, collectively known as good conduct deductions, for participation in and completion of programs and activities" outlined in the law.

Prisoners who complete the required steps are eligible for a total of seven and a half days of "earned good time," according to a memo from Department of Correction Commissioner Carol A. Mici.

"I have determined that receiving the vaccine is significantly valuable to rehabilitation and will therefore be offering Earned Good Time," Mici wrote.

Prisons remain infection hot spots: There have been 368,271 Covid-19 cases and 2,256 related deaths among incarcerated people to date, according to the Covid Prison Project, which monitors Covid-19 in correctional facilities across the US.

"If we just purely look at the epidemiology of Covid-19 where the outbreaks have been, it's really hard to ignore jails and prisons," Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, co-founder of the project, told CNN last month. "They've really been the epicenter in many ways."
2:50 a.m. ET, February 4, 2021

Using rapid tests in schools can cut coronavirus infection by half, study finds

From CNN's Keri Enriquez

A medical assistant processes a sample from a Covid-19 rapid antigen test at a senior nursing home in Froendenberg, Germany on January 22.
A medical assistant processes a sample from a Covid-19 rapid antigen test at a senior nursing home in Froendenberg, Germany on January 22. Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

Weekly screening of all students, teachers, and staff using rapid antigen tests can reduce in-school infections by 50% for high schools and 35% for primary schools, a new study found.

The different results between high schools and primary schools are due to high schoolers having a greater number of contacts and higher rates of transmission, according to the study by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services

How the study was conducted: From October to December 2020, 20,000 rapid antigen tests were distributed to K-12 schools in six pilot cities across the United States.

Each city used these tests to develop independent school testing programs aligned with guidelines developed by Johns Hopkins University and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

Schools had to decide how often to test, if testing should take place on or off school grounds and how to approach staff and students opting out of testing.

Other findings: The analysis also found that monthly testing showed a 5% reduction in infections, while twice weekly testing showed a 20% reduction. It also found that testing only teachers and staff is less effective, and the impact is greater in high schools, where students typically attend multiple classes in a day.

Social distancing by 6 feet or more can reduce infections by 88%, and universal masking by 40%, the study said.