February 24 coronavirus news

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

Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT) February 25, 2021
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4:19 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

Moderna has shipped 55 million Covid-19 doses to US

From CNN's John Bonifield

A woman receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Boston on February 23.
A woman receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Boston on February 23. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Moderna has shipped approximately 55 million Covid-19 doses to the US to date, the company said Wednesday.

An additional approximately 33 million doses have been produced, filled into vials and are in the final stages of production and testing before being released to the US, Moderna said in a news release.

The company now plans to manufacture 700 million doses globally this year, an increase of 100 million doses. In 2022, it says its global capacity will increase to approximately 1.4 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna said it is making new financial investments to achieve that increased capacity at manufacturing sites. The influx of money will enable additional production of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine and potential production of new versions of the vaccine that may be needed to combat coronavirus variants.

The company said it could potentially manufacture even more doses in 2022 if studies show new variant-based versions of the vaccine can be administered at lower dosages than the current vaccine.

3:55 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

White House officially announces continuation of Covid-19 national emergency

From CNN's DJ Judd

The White House officially announced it will continue the national emergency declared by the previous administration surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The national emergency was declared last year on March 13, 2020.

In a news release issued today, the White House said "the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation," adding that the declaration "must continue in effect beyond March 1, 2021." 

3:31 p.m. ET, February 24, 2021

North Carolina governor eases Covid-19 restrictions as infections decline

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 24.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 24. Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/AP

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he will sign a new executive order that starts on Friday that will ease some of the Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The new executive order lifts the modified stay-at-home order that requires people to stay in their residences and businesses to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time.

Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the statewide mask mandate remains in effect.

Indoor gathering limits increase from 10 to 25, with the limit of 50 for outdoor gatherings remaining the same, the order said.

The curfew for alcohol sales for onsite consumption will now be from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. under the new order.

The order also lightened capacity limits for event venues. Indoor venues that have a capacity over 5,000 can now allow 15% capacity as long as they follow additional safety measures.

Previously, this limit was at 250 people, regardless of venue size. Outdoor venues can now have a capacity of 30%.

By the numbers: According to the state dashboard, 849,630 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 11,074 deaths reported in North Carolina.

The dashboard showed that 2,180,655 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the state.

To note: These numbers were released by the state’s public health agency and may not line up exactly in real-time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, The Covid Tracking Project and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.