February 10 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Christopher Johnson and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 6:34 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021
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2:11 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

White House announces new mass vaccination centers in Texas

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

The White House Covid-19 response team announced it would be building three new mass vaccination sites in the state of Texas, which will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots a day. 

“Today I’m pleased to announce that we’ll partner with the state of Texas to build three new major community vaccination centers, in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, communities hit hard by the pandemic,” Jeff Zients, Coordinator of the Covid-19 response team said at a briefing on Wednesday. 

The sites in Houston and Arlington are at two NFL stadiums, the NRG Stadium and AT&T Stadium respectively.

In an interview that aired before the Super Bowl on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had offered all the NFL Stadiums up as vaccination sites. The vaccination site in South Dallas will be at Fair Park, home to the Texas State Fair. 

“Together these sites will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots in arms a day,” Zients said. He added that federal teams would be deployed to work with the state and local jurisdictions on this effort.

Zients said they expect the sites to begin administering shots the week of February 22.

1:51 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Fully vaccinated people can skip Covid quarantines, CDC says

From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox

People who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus -- meaning they have recieved two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine-- can skip quarantine if they are exposed to someone infected with the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

“Fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19,” the CDC said in updates to its webpage with guidance on vaccination.

“Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria,” the CDC added.

The criteria: They must be fully vaccinated – having had both shots with at least two weeks having passed since the second shot. But the CDC says protection may wear off after three months, so people who had their last shot three months ago or more should quarantine if they are exposed. They also should quarantine if they show symptoms, the CDC said.

“This recommendation to waive quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity aligns with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which eases implementation,” the CDC said.

People who have been vaccinated should still watch for symptoms for 14 days after they have been exposed to someone who is infected, the CDC said.

“At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing,” the agency said.

1:43 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

PAHO sees "improving trends" in a pandemic in the Americas

From CNN's Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Colombia 

The Pan American Health Organization has registered improving developments in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

“After many weeks of increases in Covid cases and deaths, we are starting to see improving trends in some of the more heavily affected countries, including the US and Brazil. There are also positive signs in Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, and Argentina,” Etienne said during PAHO’s weekly online briefing.

Etienne also warned that the trends are “cause for hope, but not for celebration,” and that the number of Covid-related deaths continued to increase in the Americas over the last seven days.

Particularly concerning are hotspots in Central America and the Amazon tri-border region between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, Etienne also said. 

1:26 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Boris Johnson welcomes WHO support for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and UK's dosing regimen

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales, on November 30.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photograph with a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales, on November 30. Paul Ellis/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has welcomed the World Health Organization's backing for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and for the UK's spaced-out dosing strategy that had been the subject of intense debate in medical circles.

Johnson encouraged any eligible Brits who hadn't taken up an offer of a vaccine to do so, as he confirmed Britain has inoculated more than 13 million people -- about a fifth of its population.

"Let me stress that these vaccines are safe and effective, and it was good to see the World Health Organisation today confirm its support for the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine for use in everyone over the age of 18 and, obviously, anyone over 65," Johnson said at a press briefing.

The WHO earlier recommended the vaccine for use, including for the elderly, after some countries recommended it not be given to over 65s until more data is released.

Dr. Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization said "the immune response in people above 65 is almost the same as in younger people, and this makes us very confident."

At his briefing, Johnson highlighted the WHO "also supporting the 12-week interval between the two doses," the unorthodox approach the UK has followed. "Indeed, they say the longer interval provides greater protection," Johnson said.

1:17 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

White House not recommending double masking at this time, considering a "range of options" to get masks to Americans

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

White House press secretary Jen Psaki enters the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House for a news briefing on February 10.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki enters the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House for a news briefing on February 10. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House isn’t at this time recommending that people wear two masks to prevent coronavirus, but is considering a “range of options” when it comes to getting masks to Americans, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.  

Psaki told reporters during a press briefing that reports that two masks protect better than one were based on a “study, which was a reflection of the importance of well-fitting masks, something that many of our health and medical experts have talked about.” 

“It doesn't actually issue definitive guidance on one mask versus two mask,” Psaki continued. “Obviously if that's something they were to issue as official guidance, we listened to our health and medical experts.” 

She said the study shows “that if a person has a loose fitting mask that they should consider options to improve that fit.”

Asked if there was a plan for the administration to send masks to Americans, Psaki said there were “a range of options under consideration on to how to ensure that people who need masks the most, people who need this type of protection the most, receive it, but no decision has been no final decision has been made.”

Last week, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the administration hoped to resurrect a proposal from the Trump administration to mail face masks to every American in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19.

12:53 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

WHO, UNICEF call out inequitable global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines

From CNN Health's Ashley Ahn

Top officials at the World Health Organization and UNICEF on Wednesday called out the inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across the globe, which has seen wealthier countries vaccinating millions and poorer countries vaccinating no one. 

"Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for 60% of global (gross domestic product)," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, and Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said in a joint statement.

"As of today, almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose."

They said the current approach is a "self-defeating strategy" that will "cost lives and livelihoods" and give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade the vaccines.

To ensure that vaccine rollouts begin in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021, the officials said it is imperative that governments share vaccines with other countries after they have vaccinated their own health workers and populations at the highest risk of severe disease.

They also called on vaccine manufactures to allocate the limited vaccine supply equitably by taking steps to scale up production and by transferring technology to other manufacturers to make additional supply.

"We need global leadership to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity," the statement said. "COVID-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together."

12:39 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Norway extends border closures to the end of February

From CNN's James Frater in London

Customs officers and policemen check drivers at the border between Norway and Sweden in Swinesund on March 16, 2020.
Customs officers and policemen check drivers at the border between Norway and Sweden in Swinesund on March 16, 2020. Vidar Ruud/NTB Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Norway is extending border closures to the end of February, its Justice Minister announced on Wednesday.

The border closures, which have been in place since January 29, prohibit nearly everyone who does not reside in Norway from entering the country.

“This has major consequences for many families and individuals who are not allowed to meet their loved ones. And then, of course, it has enormous consequences for Norwegian businesses and industry," said Norwegian Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland on Wednesday. 

“At the same time, we are in a situation where the pandemic has taken a new direction, with mutated viruses that infect more people and infect more quickly."

“We must make sure we have control and limit the infection as much as possible, and that means, and of course, to limit the import of infection," Mæland added.

“The infection situation in Europe, and especially elsewhere than Europe, indicates that we must continue to limit the number of people travelling to Norway as much as we can."

As of Tuesday, Norway has recorded 65,338 Covid-19 cases and 592 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest government data.

The country has also recorded several cases of the coronavirus variants that were first identified in the UK and South Africa. As of Tuesday, Norway’s Public Health Institute has reported 436 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that was first identified in the UK and 10 cases of the B1.351 variant that was first identified in South Africa.

12:27 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

About 20,000 pregnant women have received Covid-19 vaccines so far, 'with no red flags,' Fauci says

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Tens of thousands of pregnant women have been vaccinated against Covid-19 so far and there have been "no red flags" in their reactions to the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden, said during a White House briefing on Wednesday.

Fauci said that children and pregnant women were not included in the original clinical trials for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, which are now authorized for emergency use in the United States.

Some clinical trials including pregnant women and children will be starting or are already underway, he said.

"But I want to point out that since the EUA (emergency use authorization) and under the EUA, approximately 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with no red flags, as we say, and this is being monitored by the CDC and the FDA," Fauci said on Wednesday.

"With regard to children and pregnant women, as I mentioned on a prior discussion with this group, the fact remains that we will be starting clinical trials, and some have already started. We will not need to do tens of thousands of people," Fauci said.

"We will need just enough measured in hundreds to thousands for safety and whether or not we induce an immune response that is equivalent to the immune response that has been proven to be protective under the trials that have now shown to be 94% to 95% effective."

12:17 p.m. ET, February 10, 2021

WHO recommends AstraZeneca vaccine for adults over 18 and in countries where new variants are circulating

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard and Naomi Thomas

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

The World Health Organization's recommendations for the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca

Covid-19 vaccine, AZD1222, include all people ages 18 and older, including older adults.

In a briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Joachim Hombach, executive secretary of WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization said:

The immune response in people above 65 is almost the same as in younger people, and this makes us very confident."

The new recommendations were published on Wednesday and note that there are some populations for which data are limited or do not exist – including children, pregnant women, lactating women and other groups. "Until such data are available, vaccination of individuals below 18 years of age is not recommended," the guidance says.

"The available data on AZD1222 vaccination of pregnant women are insufficient to assess vaccine efficacy or vaccine-associated risks in pregnancy. However, it should be noted that AZD1222 is a nonreplicating vaccine," it says. It added that the "WHO does not recommend pregnancy testing prior to vaccination. WHO does not recommend delaying pregnancy because of vaccination."

For women who are breastfeeding, the guidance says that "a lactating woman who is part of a group recommended for vaccination, e.g., health workers, should be offered vaccination on an equivalent basis." It also said that it does not recommend discontinuing breastfeeding after vaccination

At the same briefing, the WHO also recommended the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in countries where variants of the coronavirus are circulating.

The group of expert advisers looked at two aspects of the circulation of the variants in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, chair of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization,Cravioto explained.

In the United Kingdom, Cravioto said preliminary analysis showed a slightly reduced efficacy against the variant first spotted there. The analysis also showed a limited reduction in titers of neutralization, which means the vaccine is still having a good effect protecting people infected with that variant.

In South AfricaCravioto said preliminary analysis showed “a marked reduction” in vaccine effectiveness against mild or moderate disease in a variant first spotted there. The analysis also showed a reduction in neutralizing antibody levels. However, he said the study was small and didn’t allow assessment of the vaccine against severe infection. He noted there is indirect evidence that there is still protection against severe disease.

Considering all these factors, we have made the recommendation that even if there is a reduction in the possibility of this vaccine having a full impact in its protection capacity, especially against severe disease, there is no reason not to recommend it’s use, even in countries that have the circulation of the variant,” Cravioto said.