February 24 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Rob Picheta, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT) February 25, 2021
34 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:07 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Honduras authorizes emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine 

From CNN's Claudia Rebaza and Jaide Garcia

A dose of the Sputnik V Coronavirus vaccine is seen on a table on February 22 in Gaza City, Gaza.
A dose of the Sputnik V Coronavirus vaccine is seen on a table on February 22 in Gaza City, Gaza. Fatima Shbair/Getty Images

Honduras authorized the emergency use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, according to a report from the Honduran Health Regulatory Agency (ARSA) on Wednesday. 

ARSA detailed in a statement that the authorization was dated Feb. 19 and was based on the consideration of the "regulatory authorities of regional reference," as a measure to control the pandemic.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia's sovereign wealth fund, announced that Honduras is the 36th country to approve the use of the Sputnik V vaccine.

3:02 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Further delays in delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines "extremely frustrating," Belgian minister says

From CNN's Rose Roobeek and James Frater

Belgian regional Health Minister Wouter Beke speaks during a meeting of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels on February 24.
Belgian regional Health Minister Wouter Beke speaks during a meeting of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels on February 24. Arthur Gekiere/Belga Mag/AFP/Getty Images

Further delays in the delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines are "extremely frustrating," said Belgian regional Health Minister Wouter Beke during a meeting of the Flemish Parliament Wednesday afternoon.

“There are doubts due to the lack of vaccine supply. I share that annoyance with you with 200%," Beke said. “That means that we constantly have to puzzle and re-puzzle. That is extremely frustrating for those who have to try to do this again every day."

Beke said Belgium only got 88,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week instead of the expected 114,716 doses.

“Next week: 21,600 instead of 19,167; and the week after we should get – but I’ll see before we believe it – 127,200 instead of 33,984 deliveries," Beke said.

The lack of supply this week will be made up for in future deliveries, Beke said but there remains a structural shortage of 31,714 doses across Belgium. He added that the delay in vaccine deliveries is no reason to doubt the efficacy of the vaccine. 

1:53 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

White House was "surprised" by lower amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccine ready for next week

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on February 24 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on February 24 in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci/AP

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was "surprised" when Johnson & Johnson told them they were behind on manufacturing.

CNN has reported the initial number of doses was expected to be closer to 10 million, and Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday it would be between 3 and 4 million.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed Psaki on the amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccine that will be deployed next week, pending emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

“We were surprised to learn that Johnson & Johnson was behind on their manufacturing. As you noted, it was kind of reported earlier to be about 10 million and now it’s more like 3 to 4 million doses that they would be ready to ship next week if they are moved through the FDA process which is not yet concluded,” Psaki said.

She continued, “We’re going to continue to work with them on ensuring that that can be expedited.”

Watch:

1:56 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Brazilian state announces new curfew

From CNN's Shasta Darlington in São Paulo 

Governor of the State of Sao Paulo João Doria speaks during a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 24.
Governor of the State of Sao Paulo João Doria speaks during a press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 24. Suamy Beydoun/AGIF/AP

São Paulo, Brazil, will begin a statewide curfew this Friday, the state's governor, João Doria, announced today.

The curfew — which will run from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. local time and will remain in place until March 14 — requires bars and restaurants to close and prohibits people from being out in the streets. 

The decision is part of a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has led to record hospitalizations.

As of Monday more than 6,400 patients were hospitalized in ICUs across the state, up from the previous record of 6,250 recorded last July.

“It's a historic record since February last year when we had our first case of Covid in Brazil, here in the state of Sao Paulo," Doria said.

The governor also said large gatherings will be prohibited at any time of day, and regulations will be enforced with fines.

The increase in hospitalizations is likely due to large gatherings and parties organized 10 days prior during Carnival, the state’s emergency Covid-19 center coordinator, Paulo Menezes, said in a press conference. Menezes said a more contagious variant of the coronavirus might also have played a part.

Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong end date for São Paulo's curfew. The curfew will remain in place until March 14.

1:06 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

France imposes local lockdowns as cases of British variant surge

From CNN's Pierre Bairin

France's health minister announced that the city of Dunkirk in northern France and its surrounding region, an area of 250,000 people, will be put under a new weekend lockdown starting this Friday night.

The minister said the measure was taken as Dunkirk is facing a surge of Covid-19 cases, due to the spread of the British variant.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran said that one in 100 of the population of Dunkirk is infected by the virus every week.

Under the lockdown, only essential shopping and travel will be allowed. The lockdown will be in effect every weekend until further notice.

The government took a similar decision on Monday for the southern region of the Alpes-Maritimes where a partial lockdown is going to be put in place between the coastal towns of Menton and Theoule over the next two weekends in an effort to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases and the spread of new variants.

12:41 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Novavax expects to apply for authorization for Covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter of 2021

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Researchers at the UW Medicine Retrovirology Lab at Harborview Medical Center work on samples from the Novavax phase 3 Covid-19 clinical vaccine trials on February 12 in Seattle.
Researchers at the UW Medicine Retrovirology Lab at Harborview Medical Center work on samples from the Novavax phase 3 Covid-19 clinical vaccine trials on February 12 in Seattle. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The biotechnology company Novavax expects to apply for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine sometime in the second quarter of 2021, Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax, said during a live Q&A with The Washington Post on Wednesday.

"Last week we finished recruiting 30,000 people in the US and Mexico and we're expecting that result right at the beginning maybe of quarter two – so pretty soon – and shortly thereafter we would be filing for what we call EUA or emergency use authorization in the US," Glenn said. 

"So, we're thinking quarter two and then deployment could come fairly quickly," Glenn said. "The vaccine we expect to be deployed widely."

The company announced Monday that it has completed enrollment of its PREVENT-19 trial, a Phase 3 study of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Mexico. The trial enrolled 30,000 volunteers across 118 locations.

12:32 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

After disappointing start, J&J Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing "in a better place now," White House says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, center, speaks during a briefing on February 24.
Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, center, speaks during a briefing on February 24. Pool

Johnson & Johnson initially was behind on manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine when the Biden administration took office last month, but it’s getting better, a White House official said Wednesday.

"When we got here five weeks ago, we learned that J&J was behind on manufacturing and our team has been working with them since, and I think they're in a better place now," Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said during a news briefing.

"We've helped them with equipment and raw materials, which I think is helping to increase greater capacity," he said, adding that the initial production ramp was "slower than we'd like."

"It was disappointing when we arrived," Zients said. "I think the progress is real and we look forward to continuing to work with the company to accelerate their delivery and their capacity."

What happens next: Pending an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, Zients said the Biden administration is preparing rollout plans for 3-4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine next week. Zients said states will receive around 2 million doses of the vaccine, and the remaining doses will be allocated to pharmacies and community health centers.

 

12:43 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

NIH launches new initiative to study long-term effects of Covid-19

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hopes that therapeutic approaches to treating long Covid could come from medications already available, but the newly announced initiative to study on long Covid may provide answers.

The aim is to learn more about how the virus may lead to widespread and long-lasting symptoms and to develop ways to treat or prevent them. Initially, the initiative will look at areas including the spectrum of recovery across the population and what the underlying biological cause of prolonged symptoms. 

“It’s very difficult to treat something when you don’t know what the target of the treatment is. And that’s the reason why it’s extremely important to take a look at these individuals, not only the scope of this, and not only the, you know, depth and breadth of the symptoms, but also to try and have some correlate that actually is a path of physiological correlate,” Fauci said at a briefing from the White House Covid-19 response team on Wednesday. 

“Once we get that, an important part of this is, as I mentioned, would be to design therapeutic approaches, hopefully by medications that we already have, we just need to know how to use them," Fauci added.

Long Covid: A study published Friday found that 30% of people with Covid-19 continue to have symptoms up to nine months after initial infection. The most commons symptoms were fatigue and loss of taste or smell, although some reported cough, trouble breathing, muscle aches and brain fog.

Nearly a third reported worse quality of life compared to before getting sick, and some said they had trouble performing at least one usual activity, such as daily chores.

Dr. Fauci discusses 'long Covid': 

12:14 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

No ruling yet on minimum wage hike in Covid relief bill

From CNN's Manu Raju 

A temporary security fence surrounds the U.S. Capitol on February 17 in Washington, DC.
A temporary security fence surrounds the U.S. Capitol on February 17 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Multiple Senate sources familiar with the matter said arguments were made on both sides this morning on the $15 federal minimum wage hike – and whether it fits within the rules of budget reconciliation.

The Senate's parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has not yet ruled on the matter, and it's not clear yet when she will.

Democrats and the White House are attempting to push Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief package through the Senate by reconciliation, meaning the bill could pass with a simple majority of 51 votes and not require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Reconciliation, however, has a strict set of rules, and provisions have to undergo a review of whether it has an impact on the budget and not just an "incidental" one.