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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1:49 a.m. ET, February 10, 2021

Johnson & Johnson CEO says he thinks people will need an annual Covid-19 vaccine for many years to come

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

The Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that people may need an annual Covid-19 shot for many years to come in order to be protected against variants of the virus.

“Unfortunately, as (the virus) spreads it can also mutate,” Alex Gorsky told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell Tuesday during the network’s Healthy Returns Spotlight event. “Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend of antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”

Johnson & Johnson asked the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine on Thursday. 

Experts say the J&J Covid-19 vaccine has advantages over others since it is a single shot and can be stored at regular refrigerated temperatures. Pfizer’s and Moderna's authorized vaccines both require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept in at deep freeze temperatures. 

Clinical trials showed J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine was 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease. It was 85% effective overall at preventing hospitalization and 100% at preventing death in all regions where it was tested. The vaccine has also been tested against some of the variants. In South Africa it was 57% effective and in Latin America it was 66% effective.

The FDA could authorize the J&J vaccine as early as the end of this month. 

6:34 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

WHO says an "intermediary host species" is most likely how Covid-19 was introduced to humans

From CNN's Chandler Thornton in Hong Kong

Peter Ben Embarek attends a news conference to wrap up a visit by an international team of experts from the World Health Organization in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei province on February 9.
Peter Ben Embarek attends a news conference to wrap up a visit by an international team of experts from the World Health Organization in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei province on February 9. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization expert Peter Ben Embarek said that the team investigating the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan have identified two scenarios that most likely caused the transmission of Covid-19 to the human population.

"Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one way that will require more studies and more specific targeted research," Ben Embarek said during a news conference on Tuesday.

He added that the possibility of transmission through the trade of frozen products was also likely.

Ben Embarek also noted two other hypotheses the team had probed while investigating the origin of the virus.

One hypothesis was a "direct zoonotic spillover," meaning, direct transmission from an animal reservoir to a human. 

"The hypothesis of a direct spillover from an original animal source into the human population is also a possible pathway and is also generating recommendation for future studies," he said.

The fourth hypothesis was the possibility of a laboratory-related incident, but that this was the least likely of the four to be the cause of the virus' introduction to humans.

Findings suggest that the laboratory hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population," Ben Embarek said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Peter Ben Embarek’s name on second and subsequent references. It’s been updated.

7:48 p.m. ET, February 9, 2021

With new Covid-19 variants, easing restrictions now would be "incredibly risky"

From CNN's Holly Yan and Christina Maxouris

Covid-19 numbers are getting better. But letting your guard down could be an open invitation for highly contagious variants to trample the US -- erasing the progress made.

"We're ... seeing what happens in other countries when these variants take over," emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen said. "There is (an) explosive surge, even when the countries are basically in shutdown."

The warning comes as more Americans believe there's no big risk in returning to pre-Covid life, according to a new poll.

An Axios-Ipsos poll published Tuesday showed 66% of those surveyed said they thought the risk of returning to pre-Covid life was moderate or large. That's the lowest percentage since October.

The groups least likely to see Covid-19 as a risk were people ages 18 to 29 (58%) and Republicans (49%).

But a majority of those vaccinated -- 76% -- still see coronavirus as a high risk.

Americans shouldn't assume the vaccine rollout means it's OK to get lax with safety measures. In fact, ditching precautions now would be "incredibly risky," said Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It is absolutely essential that we continue to do steps beyond vaccination to keep this under control," Besser said.
"The reason for that is that the more this virus is allowed to spread in our communities, the more we're going to see these variants spreading," he said.
"And if the vaccines aren't as effective against some of these variants, then we could see the gains that we're so excited about right now, we could see those reversed in a very short amount of time."

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