The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung, Zamira Rahim, Kareem Khadder and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT) March 5, 2021
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3:14 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

India's Covaxin vaccine is 81% effective, early data shows

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma and Manveena Suri

A medic prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at Hindu Rao Hospital on February 16, in New Delhi, India.
A medic prepares a dose of the Covaxin vaccine at Hindu Rao Hospital on February 16, in New Delhi, India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India's home-grown Covaxin vaccine is 81% effective against Covid-19, according to early data released Wednesday.

The vaccine was jointly developed by the company Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

The clinical trial involved 25,800 participants between 18 and 98 years old, according to Bharat Biotech. The efficacy figure is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Some 36 cases occurred in participants who got a placebo, compared to seven participants who got the vaccine.

Data indicates the vaccine can also effectively combat the variant first spotted in the UK, according to an analysis by India's National Institute of Virology.

“Today is an important milestone in vaccine discovery, for science and our fight against coronavirus," said Bharat Biotech chairman Dr. Krishna Ella. "Covaxin demonstrates high clinical efficacy trend against COVID-19 but also significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants."

About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine that has been developed in its entirety in India.

More 40 countries have expressed their interest in Covaxin, including Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bahrain, Oman, Maldives and Mauritius.

3:03 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

It’s "inexplicable" that US states are lifting restrictions right now, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a press conference the White House on January 21, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a press conference the White House on January 21, in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

It’s “inexplicable” that some US states are pulling back on restrictions as Covid-19 continues to infect tens of thousands of Americans every day, said Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday.

Texas and Mississippi moved this week to end state-wide mask mandates. 

“It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,” Fauci told CNN.
“I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you're only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines -- particularly when we're dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 70,000 infections per day in the United States,” he added. “That's a very, very high baseline.” 

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the administration’s guidance about pandemic precautions is not arbitrary.

"We know that these interventions work. It's very clear,” Fauci said. “When you implement them, you see the cases go down. When you pull back the cases go up.”