March 15 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0741 GMT (1541 HKT) March 16, 2021
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1:22 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

US child cases of Covid-19 decline for 8th consecutive week 

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Last week at least 52,695 new child Covid-19 cases were identified through testing, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

However, it’s the eighth consecutive week with a decline in new cases. 

Children still represent more than 13% of all cases in the US and more than 3.28 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 as of Feb. 25. 

Children made up between 6% and 18.6% of those who were tested for Covid-19, and 5.3% to 31% of children tested were positive for the coronavirus, depending on the state.

Children are still considered much less likely than adults to develop severe symptoms of Covid-19 or to die from the disease. Children represented 1.3% to 3% of total reported hospitalizations for Covid-19, based on the information provided by 24 states and New York City. Only 0.1%-2.1% of all cases of Covid-19 in children required hospitalization. 

10 states reported zero child deaths among the 43 states that provided data on Covid-19 mortality. 

1:09 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Mississippi will open up Covid-19 vaccination appointments to all residents starting tomorrow  

From CNN's Gregory Lemos 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that the state will be opening up Covid-19 vaccination appointments to all residents 16 and older starting Tuesday. 

"Starting tomorrow, ALL new appointments will be open to ALL Mississippians. Get your shot friends - and let’s get back to normal!" the governor tweeted Monday.  

Reeves said there will be around 10,000 appointments available over the next three weeks and encouraged those over the age of 50 to "lock them down."  

According to the governor's office, Reeves has been hinting that he was ready to do this for a few weeks.  

"He's been saying for a while that he was ready to open it up to anyone of any age who wants to get it. Today is the official announcement," the governor's press secretary Bailey Martin told CNN Monday.  

See his tweet:

1:09 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine benefits outweigh risks, European Medicines Agency reiterates

From CNN’s James Frater

A doctor holds a vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a drive-thru clinic in Milan, Italy, on March 15.
A doctor holds a vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a drive-thru clinic in Milan, Italy, on March 15. Pier Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The benefits of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risks, and the number of people developing blood clots after vaccination does not seem to be higher than in the general population, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Monday.

The statement comes after Germany, France and Italy announced temporary suspensions of use of the vaccine.

The agency said it would hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to advise on “any further actions that may need to be taken.”

The EMA said last week after Denmark suspended use of the vaccine over the death of a person with a blood clot that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

12:37 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Canada sticks with AstraZeneca vaccine despite European concerns

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Michael Gray moves a pallet of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses in Ontario, Canada, on March 3.
Michael Gray moves a pallet of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses in Ontario, Canada, on March 3. Carlos Osario/Pool/AP

Canada says it will continue with its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns in Europe about a link between the shot and blood clots. 

“Obviously we’re following what has been happening with a specific batch used in Europe but I can reassure all Canadians that no doses of AstraZeneca came from the same batch that has caused concerns in Europe,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference in Montreal. 

Health Canada confirmed last week that it is aware of reports of adverse events in Europe following immunization with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, but said "the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks." 

“At this time, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these events. To date, no adverse events related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, or the version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, have been reported to Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the statement posted last week said. 

“The best vaccine for you to take is the first one that is offered to you,” Trudeau added Monday. 

Canada’s vaccine regulator approved the AstraZeneca shot late last month, approving it for all Canadians over the age of 18, including seniors. However, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) chose not to recommend the AstraZeneca’s vaccine for people aged 65 years and older, due to what it called an insufficient amount of evidence for that age group.

Canadian provinces, responsible for administering vaccines, have taken different approaches, with some restricting the AstraZeneca vaccine to those under the age of 65.

Earlier Monday, Trudeau visited a mass vaccination site in downtown Montreal, a city that remains a stubborn hotspot for coronavirus infections. 

Trudeau said that while he was relieved to see his mother get vaccinated in recent days, he has no firm date for receiving his own vaccine shot. 

“I’m not overly focused on when my turn will come. When it comes, I will gladly get vaccinated but I will wait my turn,” he said. 

12:44 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

New York City has administered more than 2.8 million vaccines, mayor says

From CNN's Laura Ly

A pharmacist administers a Covid-19 vaccine dose to a nursing home resident in Brooklyn, New York, on January 5.
A pharmacist administers a Covid-19 vaccine dose to a nursing home resident in Brooklyn, New York, on January 5. Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York City has administered at least 2,827,436 Covid-19 vaccines to date, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference Monday, adding that the figure was “more than the population of Chicago.”

De Blasio also said the city has set a goal to vaccinate any homebound residents within the next seven weeks.

The city will reach out to their own list of NYC residents with disabilities to facilitate in-home vaccinations and homebound persons will be able to register for vaccinations on NYC.gov, according to Victor Calise, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

On Monday, New York City recorded a 6.16% Covid-19 positivity rate with 3,123 new cases. There are currently 3.38 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, de Blasio said.

Note on the data: These numbers were released by the City of New York, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University and the Covid Tracking Project.

12:25 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Netherlands lab received 10 reports of blood clots in AstraZeneca recipients

From CNN’s Mick Krever

A Dutch lab that monitors the use of pharmaceuticals says that it has received reports of 10 instances of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, but none had the low blood platelet condition reportedly observed in Norway and Denmark.

Despite pausing the use of that vaccine for two weeks, the Dutch health ministry has made clear that it is still an open question whether blood clots have “any link with vaccination at all.”

“Thrombosis is of course a very common complaint,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said Monday. “And so if you are vaccinating a large group of people, it’s not crazy that there will also be people with thrombosis after vaccination.” 

“Since the media attention last Thursday, Lareb [Pharmacovigilance Center] has received 10 reports about the AstraZeneca vaccine in which thrombosis or embolism may have played a role. No lowered platelet count (thrombocytopenia) has been reported, and the specific picture has not been reported,” he said.

The Lareb Pharmacovigilance Center said it had not received any reports in the Netherlands of vaccine recipients with both blood clots and lowered platelet count.

12:20 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Norway announces the death of a person vaccinated with AstraZeneca

From CNN’s James Frater

A person who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway has died following blood clots, bleeding and a low platelet count, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said Monday.

“On Saturday 13 March, Norwegian National Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Medicines Agency confirmed that three people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine had been admitted to (the) Rikshospitalet (hospital) with severe cases of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet count,” the agency said. “Rikshospitalet has now confirmed that one of the three has unfortunately now died.”

The cases “present a rare disease picture,” the agency said: “They have a very unusual combination of low platelet counts, blood clots in small and large vessels and bleeding.”

The agency said Norway had not seen similar combinations of symptoms with other vaccines. 

Norway is among several European countries that have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine while the European Union's medicines regulator investigates whether the shot could be linked to a number of reports of blood clots.

12:13 p.m. ET, March 15, 2021

These are the European countries suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

A growing list of European countries have suspended use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine as a precuationary measure pending review from Europe's health regulator.

France became the latest country to do so, following Italy and Germany earlier today, while they await a ruling by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Tuesday afternoon.

Previous guidance from the EMA has said the benefits of the shot outweigh any potential risks.

Here's a look at the European countries that have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine so far:

  • Denmark: On Thursday, Denmark suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations for 14 days as a “precautionary measure” as it investigates “signs of a possible serious side effect in the form of fatal blood clots” after one Danish person died following vaccination, according to Danish health officials.
  • Norway: On Thursday, Norway chose to “pause” vaccinations following reports of the death in Denmark. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said similar cases had been reported in Norway, but “mainly in the elderly where there is often another underlying disease as well.” 
  • Iceland: On Thursday, Iceland suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. There have been no reports of patients developing blood clots in the country. 
  • Bulgaria: On Friday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov ordered a halt to all AstraZeneca vaccinations until the EMA “rejects all doubts” about the vaccine's safety.
  • Ireland: On Sunday, Ireland decided to temporarily suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to "maintain confidence" in its vaccine program, according to the Chair of its National Immunization Advisory Committee.
  • Netherlands: On Sunday, the Dutch government said it would pause AstraZeneca vaccinations for two weeks “as a precautionary measure and pending further investigation.”
  • Germany: On Monday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the country was “precautiously” halting vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine following similar moves by other European countries.
  • Italy: On Monday, Italy’s medicines agency banned the use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine "as a precaution and temporarily," pending a meeting of the European Medicines Agency.
  • France: On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said they were suspending use of the vaccine until a definitive ruling from Europe's health regulator on Tuesday afternoon. “We have one principle: be guided by science and competent health authorities, and do so within a coordinated European approach,” Macron said. 

Meanwhile, the UK continues to use the AstraZeneca vaccine and maintains that it is safe. Earlier Monday, the deputy head of the United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunizations said there is no indication of a link between blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine and is encouraging people to continue to get the shot.

“The UK has administered 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and there has been no demonstrable difference in the number of blood clots since the vaccine was introduced,” Anthony Harnden said in a tweet posted by Public Health England. “The vaccine has been rigorously tested for safety and approved by the European Medicines Agency, MHRA and WHO, so people should continue to take it.”
11:49 a.m. ET, March 15, 2021

Italy joins growing list of countries suspending AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN’s Valentina DiDonato in Rome

A healthcare worker of the Italian Army prepares doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on March 5 in Rome.
A healthcare worker of the Italian Army prepares doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on March 5 in Rome. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Italy’s medicines agency is banning the use of the AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine "as a precaution and temporarily," pending a meeting of the European Medicines Agency, the Italian agency AIFA announced Monday.

“AIFA has decided to extend the ban on the use of the AstraZeneca Covid19 vaccine throughout the country as a precaution and temporarily, pending the rulings of the EMA. This decision was taken in line with similar measures adopted by other European countries,” the agency said in a statement.

France and Germany announced similar suspensions on Monday, while the UK said it would continue using the vaccine.