February 9 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Christopher Johnson and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 6:29 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021
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1:24 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

US reports more than 86,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton in Atlanta

The United States reported 86,646 new cases of Covid-19 and 1,465 additional virus-related deaths on Monday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

That raises the national total to at least 27,094,014 infections and 464,941 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.   

Vaccines: At least 59,307,800 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 42,417,617 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CNN is tracking US cases.

1:08 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Peru's coronavirus vaccine rollout begins Tuesday

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta and Claudia Rebaza in London

A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm during its trial at the Clinical Studies Center of the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru on December 9, 2020.
A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm during its trial at the Clinical Studies Center of the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru on December 9, 2020. Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti will be vaccinated with China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, signaling the start of the country's inoculation program, state news agency Andina reported Monday.

"The process will begin tomorrow (Tuesday) with the vaccination of the President. We are happy as this restores hope of tackling the health crisis," Nancy Olivares, Peru's vaccination team coordinator at the Ministry of Health, told a Peruvian news show. 

Sagasti will be vaccinated along with frontline health care workers during the first phase of the rollout, Olivares said. 

Peru took delivery of its first shipment of 300,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine on Sunday and expects to receive the remaining 700,000 shots on February 14.

Peru, with a population of more than 32 million people, has reported nearly 1.2 million Covid-19 cases.

12:45 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

FDA needs strong agenda to address US drug supply shortages, candidate for top job says

From CNN Health’s Samira Said

The US Food and Drug Administration needs a strong agenda to strengthen the process of manufacturing and purchasing drugs so the country doesn’t suffer shortages in key medications, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, one of the candidates being considered by the Biden administration for the role of FDA commissioner.

"The FDA, through its usual course of business, can make the supply chain more resilient, and that will pay off in regular times as well as within crises,” Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told CNN Monday.·     

Writing in a commentary in the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Sharfstein and colleagues said: "The acute stress of the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare a series of long-term weaknesses in the US public health system, including the fragility of our supply of essential medications.”

The Johns Hopkins team team said these weaknesses include:

  • Pre-pandemic drug shortages that were never addressed
  • US reliance on countries like China and India for drug ingredients that were severely limited when those countries went into lockdown
  • Allowing pharmaceutical wholesalers to decide where to deliver high-demand inventory, even when supply is limited

The federal government should "absolutely" have a stronger role in addressing these problems, Sharfstein said. 

"Some of the challenges are about extraordinary circumstances, like a global pandemic that shuts down trade. And we have to be better prepared for those in the future. But other challenges are about surges in demand for certain types of medications, or interruptions of supply of just a couple of medications and were about misdistribution," said Sharfstein, who has declined to comment on reports the Biden team is considering him for the top job at FDA.

Possible solutions, Sharfstein and colleagues said, include giving the FDA the authority to declare a critical drug shortage, which would in turn allow the agency to redirect supplies where needed. The US could also provide better incentives for companies to produce drugs in the country, and allow manufacturers to make drugs that are under patent if those medications are in short supply and the patent-holder cannot meet demand. 

12:01 a.m. ET, February 9, 2021

Los Angeles County is only offering second doses of Covid-19 vaccine due to shortage

From CNN's Sarah Moon

People with appointments stand in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in East Los Angeles amid eased lockdown restrictions on January 28.
People with appointments stand in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in East Los Angeles amid eased lockdown restrictions on January 28. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Starting Tuesday, Los Angeles County will only be offering appointments for the second dosage of the coronavirus vaccine due to a shortage in supply, rather than offering any more first doses, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced.  

“Scheduling an appointment right now is challenging because of the limited supply of vaccines that the county is receiving on a weekly basis,” the public health department said in a press release Monday.

This will last for the remainder of the week.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a news conference Monday that this is to “ensure that we have enough doses to guarantee a second dose for people who already received the first one.”

More first-time appointments will be offered once the county receives more doses, she added.  

While it’s unclear if this applies to all vaccination sites in the county, including the city’s mass vaccination sites like Dodger Stadium, the public health department posted in a tweet on Saturday that seven vaccination sites in the county will only administer the second doses for the remainder of the week.

CNN has reached out to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for clarification.  

There are 365 sites offering the vaccination this week, according to the release. About 20% of the county’s residents 65 and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.  

To date, Los Angeles County has reported a total of 1,149,064 confirmed coronavirus cases and 18,135 deaths.

10:09 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Pfizer says it has increased production to double coronavirus vaccine output

From CNN Health’s Nadia Kounang

Efficiencies and upgrades in the production process have helped vaccine maker Pfizer double its output of coronavirus vaccine in the past month, a spokeswoman for the company told CNN Monday.

While the company did not give any production figures to support the estimate, spokeswoman Amy Rose said Pfizer expects production time to be cut nearly in half, from 110 days to an average of 60 days for one batch of Covid-19 vaccine.

One batch is equal to between 1 million to 3 million doses, Pfizer says.

Producing the genetic material that forms the basis of the vaccine initially took 16 days, but will soon take just nine to 10 days, Rose said.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week the company expects to deliver 200 million doses of its vaccine to the United States by the end of May.

10:09 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

CDC is "looking at all its options," Buttigieg says of mandatory Covid-19 tests for domestic flights

From CNN Health's Andrea Diaz

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "is looking at all its options" as it considers whether passengers should be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test before domestic flights, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday.

"What we know is that it's the appropriate measure for international travel, people traveling into the US given some of those considerations. You know, I'd say the domestic picture is very different, but you know the CDC is always evaluating what can best be done to keep Americans safe," Buttigieg told CNN's Erin Burnett.

Buttigieg first mentioned the possible testing requirement for air travelers within the United States in an interview Sunday with "Axios on HBO."

When asked if he supports the idea of requiring proof of a Covid-19 vaccination before air travel, Buttigieg said that is up to the CDC. 

"So, that's not a step that has been taken, and again, CDC is really in the lead on deciding what the right measures will be ... this is part of why the President's American Rescue Plan is so urgent, because that is going to push the resources out to the states, out into our communities, to make sure that we really can accelerate that vaccination that we know is our best chance to beat this virus," Buttigieg said.

8:10 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

US considers Covid-19 testing requirement for domestic air travel

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

The Biden administration is considering a rule that would require negative Covid-19 test results for domestic air travel, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg mentioned the possible testing requirement for air travelers within the United States in an interview Sunday with "Axios on HBO."

"There's an active conversation with the CDC right now," Buttigieg told Axios. "What I can tell you is, it's going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out."

On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that screening US travelers for Covid-19 could be helpful. But she did not expand upon whether there are plans to test domestic travelers.

"To the extent that we have available tests to be able to do testing, first and foremost, I would really encourage people to not travel," Walensky said during a White House briefing. "But if we are traveling, this would be yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease the spread."

Read the full story:

8:09 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

Covid-19 antigen tests not counted among cases in some states, CNN analysis shows

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Antigen test results still are not included in the total count of Covid-19 cases for some states -- not even as probable cases, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

Five states -- California, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri and Nevada -- publicly report only cases confirmed with PCR tests in their online tallies, according to a CNN analysis of health department dashboards across all 50 states.

Some states only report polymerase chain reaction test results in their Covid-19 case numbers and exclude antigen test results since antigen tests are generally seen as less accurate. But as antigen testing ramps up in the United States, this exclusion could lead to potential miscounts.

"Antigen tests are relatively inexpensive, and most can be used at the point of care. Most of the currently authorized tests return results in approximately 15 minutes," according to the US Food and Drug Administration, but also notes it's generally less sensitive than other types of tests.

In California, for instance, CNN was told that antigen Covid-19 test results are required to be reported to local health departments and to the California Department of Public Health. But publicly reported Covid-19 testing data only reflects results from diagnostic tests that detect the coronavirus' genetic material, such as PCR -- polymerase chain reaction -- tests.

CNN requested antigen testing data from the state's department of public health, but was told in an email that "antigen test results are not being publicly reported statewide at this time."

Across the four remaining states, the data they each shared with CNN represent about 10,000 positive Covid-19 antigen test results reported over just a small sampling of days in January.

If included in reported case counts, those positive antigen test results would increase Covid-19 cases reported by those states between 5% and 50% in that time, according to CNN's analysis.

Read the full story:

8:06 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021

US ramping up Covid-19 genome sequencing to track variants, CDC director says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard, Nick Neville and Christina Maxouris

The United States has ramped up its genome sequencing efforts in the hunt for coronavirus variants, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.

"Over the last three weeks or so we've increased our sequencing about tenfold," Walensky said during a White House briefing. "So as we look more, we certainly anticipate we might find more" variants.

The US effort in genetic sequencing lags far behind many other developed nations. One analysis ranked the US 33rd in the world for sequences per 1,000 cases of Covid-19.

Scientists search for coronavirus mutations by taking samples of the virus from patients' nasal swabs and analyzing their genetic sequences.

Mutations are changes in the genetic code of a virus that occur naturally over time when an animal or person is infected -- and such mutations can lead to the emergence of new variants.

"We anticipate that we're probably going to be sequencing up to three to four more than we are already sequencing," Walensky said.
"I think once we have more sequencing that's happening, we'll have a better idea as to how many variants there are and what proportion are out there."

Walensky said during the briefing that she was "reluctant" to provide an estimate of how many coronavirus variant cases there could be based on the current data. She also warned that variants could reverse encouraging declines in Covid-19 statistics.

Read the full story: