UK "confident epidemic is shrinking" as R number reduces
From Samantha Tapfumaneyi
The UK is confident that the epidemic is shrinking as the Covid-19 reproduction number (R) is now between 0.7 and 1.0, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Friday.
The R is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.
The growth rate in the UK is estimated to between -5% and -2% and the R number is estimated to be below 1, meaning that the number of “new infections is shrinking by between 2% to 5% every day”.
DHSC added that “it remains important that everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives”.
9:31 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
CNN's Athena Jones will answer your questions about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Mass vaccinations are rolling out across the US. CNN's Athena Jones will answer your questions from a vaccine site at Yankees Stadium in New York.
What questions do you have about vaccines and the roll out process?
9:34 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
The US Senate passed a budget resolution to fast-track Biden's Covid-19 relief. Here's what comes next.
From CNN's Ted Barrett and Paul LeBlanc
The Senate passed a budget resolution early Friday morning — a key procedural step that sets up the ability for Democrats to pass President Biden's sweeping Covid-19 relief package without the threat of a filibuster from Republicans who oppose it.
The measure passed 51-50 on a party line vote, but only after Vice President Kamala Harris showed up at the Capitol to break the tie.
Passage followed hours of voting on amendments in an exhausting ritual known as a "vote-a-rama," when senators can theoretically offer as many amendments to the budget resolution as they desire.
Those amendments largely serve as a way for each party to force the other side on the record about controversial issues, and most of the GOP amendments were defeated.
Biden is expected to meet with Democratic leaders of the committees at the White House.
What comes next: The budget resolution that passed is not the Covid relief bill. It simply sets the stage for Democrats to be able to use a process known as "budget reconciliation" to pass the relief bill on a party-line vote, possibly in late February or March, after the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is complete in the Senate.
Embedded in the budget resolution are reconciliation instructions for multiple congressional committees to formally draft and approve legislation on things like funds for vaccine production and distribution, unemployment insurance, stimulus checks and more.
The House already passed the budget measure earlier in the week. But because it was amended in the Senate it will need to go back to the House for a final vote, possibly Friday.
Biden has said he is willing to go forward without the support of Republicans, but he's also stressed that he's willing to make certain concessions if it will earn bipartisan support.
A Biden aide told CNN Friday the Senate's passage of the resolution is a "positive step forward" and that the White House is "looking forward to continued progress to getting assistance to the American people."
Congressional Democrats have also made clear that they think time is of the essence on the proposal, and a deep divergence remains between Biden's $1.9 trillion and the $618 billion GOP proposal.
9:17 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
People who violate US transportation mask mandate face a $250 fine and up to $1,500 for repeat offenders
The fine can grow up to $1,500 for repeated violations.
“Based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors, TSA may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges,” the agency said.
The penalties may be in addition to those imposed by operators. US airlines have taken the initiative to ban passengers who do not follow the rules, and the Federal Aviation Administration has said it will crack down on any passengers who disrupt flights of assault crew members over instructions to wear a mask.
The order that took effect earlier this week requires masks in transportation hubs like train stations and airports, and on many commercial and public transportation networks, like trains, buses and airplanes.
9:21 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
AstraZeneca vaccine effective against UK variant, University of Oxford statement says
From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau
The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine “has similar efficacy against the B.1.1.7 ‘Kent’ coronavirus strain currently circulating in the UK to previously circulating variants,” a statement from University of Oxford published Friday read.
The university said a preprint of ongoing work to assess effectiveness of its coronavirus vaccine also described recent analysis “showing that the vaccination results in a reduction in the duration of shedding and viral load, which may translate into a reduced transmission of the disease.”
Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and Immunity and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the United Kingdom indicate that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B.1.1.7, which caused the surge in disease from the end of 2020 across the UK.”
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said the university was working with AstraZeneca to “optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary.”
“This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change,” she added.
9:01 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
America's unemployment rate fell last month — but jobs recovery is still dragging during the pandemic
From CNN’s Anneken Tappe
America's unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January, beating economists' expectations but still signaling a sluggish recovery.
The US economy added 49,000 jobs last month, according to the government jobs report released Friday morning.
8:54 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the US this week outnumbered new cases 10 to 1
From CNN's Deidre McPhillips
In the past week, more than 9 million Covid-19 vaccines doses were administered in the United States, according to data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s nearly ten times more than the 958,965 new cases reported in the same seven-day period, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.
New cases were down 15% from last week, JHU data shows. Meanwhile, the pace of vaccinations increased about 5% from last week, CDC data shows.
9:03 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
US secretary of state congratulates Russia on Sputnik V vaccine, Russian official says
From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken congratulated Russia on the effectiveness of the Gamaleya Insitute’s Sputnik V vaccine.
“Yesterday, I've been discussing it with Anthony Blinken, with him we touched on Sputnik V. He congratulated us on the fact that this vaccine was effective,” Lavrov told reporters at a joint press conference with EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday.
“We agreed to promote contacts between our scientists and laboratories to find opportunities for cooperation in this area with our European colleagues,” the Russian minister said.
“We have intensive contacts on this matter. Many countries are interested in buying and manufacturing this vaccine on their territories. Chancellor Merkel, in her telephone conversation with President Putin, also mentioned opportunities of developing cooperation between Germany and Russia,” he added.
Lavrov told reporters that Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, which developed the vaccine, also contacted Oxford/AstraZeneca manufacturers, “to produce a combined variant of vaccine that would comprise [the] positive effects of both vaccines.”
Some context: After criticism last year for an early rollout, Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has shown to be 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 100% effective against severe and moderate disease, according to an interim analysis of the vaccine's Phase 3 trial results published in The Lancet this week.
8:26 a.m. ET, February 5, 2021
Different vaccines likely won't be divided by age groups right now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta says
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he doesn’t predict certain vaccines being administered to different demographic groups right now.
Responding to a viewer question about the possibility of administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those between the ages of 20-49 when they are eligible, Gupta said this on CNN's "New Day":
“That could be the case later on. … We'll see, but not right now. I mean, these vaccines, especially given that the demand is so much greater than the supply, the idea of starting to parse it out that way — we'll see what the CDC says — but I doubt that will be the way they go with this."
About the vaccine: Johnson & Johnson officially asked the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is delivered in a single shot, whereas Pfizer and Moderna's require two doses. It was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, according to the company, and its efficacy against moderate and severe disease was 72% in the US.
“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, when it was trialed, that happened at a different time. It was later in this pandemic, and it happened in different places: South Africa, Brazil, places where we know these variants have been spreading,” Gupta explained.
“So when we say 95% effective with the Pfizer vaccine compared to 85% effective for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, I don't know that you can say that as a direct head-to-head comparison, because you are essentially testing it against a sort of different disease,” Gupta said.
“They're all really good vaccines. I think you've got to inoculate people who are the greatest risk of dying, of getting sick, of being hospitalized,” which will lead to death rates going down, he added.