The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Julia Hollingsworth, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT) March 22, 2021
23 Posts
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11:36 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

CDC director warns coronavirus variants could spark “another avoidable surge”

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Dr. Rochelle Walensky White House

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she's worried the United States could see "another avoidable surge" of Covid-19 if mitigation measures – such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowds or travel – are not followed.

"As I've stated before, the continued relaxation of prevention measures while cases are still high and while concerning variants are spreading rapidly throughout the United States is a serious threat to the progress we have made as a nation," Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Monday.

"Increasingly, states are seeing a growing proportion of their Covid-19 cases attributed variants," Walensky said, adding that for instance, two newly identified variants – B.1427 and B.1429 – are estimated to account for 52% of cases in California, 41% in Nevada and 25% in Arizona.

The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, is estimated to be responsible for 9% of cases in New Jersey and 8% in Florida, Walensky said.

"We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take," Walensky said. "We must act now, and I am worried that if we don't take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge – just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination."

11:26 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine accounted for only 6% of doses administered last week, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

A health worker in Pennsylvania holds a box with the Janssen Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on March 15.
A health worker in Pennsylvania holds a box with the Janssen Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on March 15. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/Getty Images

Only about 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine were reported administered last week, accounting for only about 6% of the more than 17 million doses reported administered in the past seven days, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the first Johnson & Johnson shot was administered on March 2, about 2.3 million people in the US have been vaccinated with the only single-dose vaccine authorized for emergency use in the country.

But in that time, the average daily rates of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna doses administered have each outpaced Johnson & Johnson by more than nine times.

Here's a breakdown of doses administered since March 2, according to CDC data:

  • More than 22 million Pfizer/BioNTech doses
  • More than 21 million Moderna doses
  • About 2.3 million Johnson & Johnson doses.

Johnson & Johnson has promised 20 million doses to the US by the end of March, but only about 4.3 million doses have been delivered to states, according to data reported by the CDC on Sunday.

The manufacturer is “unknown” for a small share of vaccine doses administered – less than 150,000 of the nearly 125 million total doses administered – CDC data shows.


11:07 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Poland urges people to work from home as study shows nearly 50% of new Covid-19 cases found in workplace

From CNNs Antonia Mortensen in Milan, Italy

Poland’s Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski urged people to work from home saying according to the latest data, the dominant place in generating a new infection was the workplace.

“I received a report from the Department of Health and Safety, which identifies the recent outbreaks of disease in the country. The report covered the last three days, and almost 50% of coronavirus infections are identified in the workplace,” Niedzielski said during a news conference Monday.

The Polish prime minister and Niedzielski gave a news conference Monday after visiting a temporary coronavirus hospital in Radom. 

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appealed to the public for continued diligence adhering to restrictions to limit the spread of the virus and voiced concern at the infection rate acceleration during the last few weeks.

“This virus also attacks younger people; more and more people are hospitalized under the age of 50 and 40, and unfortunately, it often ends with a very serious case of illness or a very tragic case of death,” Morawiecki said.

10:50 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

NFL to host fans and prospects at 2021 Draft

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

The NFL logo is pictured before the first quarter between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 03 in Cleveland, Ohio.
The NFL logo is pictured before the first quarter between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 03 in Cleveland, Ohio. Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft will be held with a select number of prospects and fans across various downtown Cleveland, Ohio locations, the league announced Monday.

The 86th draft, scheduled for April 29 through May 1, will take place at FirstEnergyStadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center.  

The NFL Draft Main Stage will be set against the backdrop of Lake Erie. An unspecified number of prospects will take the stage in Cleveland. The league said additional prospects will participate in the festivities virtually from their homes around the country.

Last year's draft was held virtually for the first time ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an effort to promote getting the Covid-19 vaccine, each team will select fully vaccinated fans who will have a front row seat at the draft. 

Fans will also be able to partake in the league's free interactive football theme park — the NFL Draft Experience — all three days of the draft. Reservations will be required.

Fans must wear face coverings and adhere to physical distancing, the league said. 

10:45 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

US food delivery service launches same-day delivery of Covid-19 PCR tests

From CNN’s Alison Kosik 

A DoorDash delivery driver waits near a restaurant on December 30, 2020 in New York City.
A DoorDash delivery driver waits near a restaurant on December 30, 2020 in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

DoorDash announced it will begin same-day deliveries of US Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid-19 PCR tests across the US.

In a new release, the online food and product delivery platform says it teamed up with digital health companies Vault Health and Everlywell, giving consumers access to “two COVID-19 home collection kits that received FDA Emergency Use Authorization.”

The delivery company says the Vault Health Covid-19 test is for people of all ages and:

“Is a supervised saliva collection PCR test that is performed under the supervision of Vault staff through an audio-video visit to confirm identity, ensure proper saliva sample collection and quantity for the most accurate results.”

The Everlywell Covid-19 Test kit is done using a nasal swab.

DoorDash says the testing kits will be available in a dozen DashMart locations across the US including Baltimore, Chicago, and Phoenix, “with more cities rolling out in the coming months.”

10:06 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

South Korea identifies two cases of severe adverse reactions linked to AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul and CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Dobong health care center on February 26 in Seoul, South Korea.
A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Dobong health care center on February 26 in Seoul, South Korea. Jung Yeon-Je/Pool/Getty Images

South Korean health authorities investigated ten cases of severe adverse reactions and anaphylaxis reported after receiving Covid-19 vaccines and identified two linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a news release on Monday.

A nursing hospital patient in her 40s reported high fever and seizure after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine and low blood pressure the next day, and a medical worker in her 20s displayed anaphylaxis symptoms seven minutes after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Both individual's conditions improved, KDCA added.

Separately, there were two suspected blood clot cases after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccines in South Korea. One of the two died, but the Covid-19 Vaccine Damage Investigation Committee during KDCA briefing on Monday said the correlation between the vaccine and blood clot is "very low." An investigation is continuing for the other patient, who is currently in good condition.  

Meanwhile, it is recommended that South Korea continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, just as the World Health Organization, European Medicines Agency, and UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have.

Starting on March 23, nursing hospital workers and patients over 65 will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. According to the Covid-19 Vaccine Administration Committee's vaccination management system, 76.9% of 375,061 nursing hospital & facility workers and patients over 65 said they will get the vaccine, the KDCA press release added.

In South Korea, a total of 676,607 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine so far; 619,100 of those received the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to KDCA press release. A total of 9,703 adverse reactions after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine have been reported as of Monday — 9,592 had common symptoms, 89 had suspected anaphylaxis, six had severe reactions and 16 were deaths.

The committee has so far reviewed 15 of the 16 reported deaths that followed AstraZeneca vaccination and said that it is difficult to recognize the link between 13 deaths and the vaccine; two cases will be reviewed after autopsy.

9:56 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

UK Prime Minister reassured the EU partners don't want to see vaccine blockades

From CNNs Schams Elwazer in London

UK prime minister Boris Johnson wears a face mask during a visit to BAE Systems at Warton Aerodrome on March 22 in Preston, England.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson wears a face mask during a visit to BAE Systems at Warton Aerodrome on March 22 in Preston, England. Christopher Furlong/Pool/Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson talked down tension over a possible European Union blockaded of AstraZeneca exports to the UK.

“I'm reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don't want to see blockades, I think that's very very important — but clearly what matters to us in the UK is to get on with the rollout of the vaccine program,” Johnson said Monday during a factory visit in Lancashire, UK.

The row between the European Union and the United Kingdom over the AstraZeneca vaccine is again heating up, with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warning that the bloc could stop its exports from the EU.

“We have the option of prohibiting a planned export,” von der Leyen said in an interview with Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe over the weekend. 

“That is the message to AstraZeneca: You first fulfil your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries,” she added.

9:52 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

UK Prime Minister warns of possible third wave hitting the country

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a possible third wave of the coronavirus hitting the UK.

Speaking during a factory visit in Lancashire, the UK prime minister said, “We are all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems, I think one thing is worth stressing, is that on the continent right now you can see sadly there is a third wave underway,"

"People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, I’m afraid washes up on our shores as well. And I expect that we will feel those affects in due course. That is why we are getting on with our vaccination program as fast as we can.” Johnson added.

The UK has reported a total of 4,310,195 coronavirus cases and 126,393 coronavirus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

9:22 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be vaccinated Tuesday

From CNN’s Zahra Ullah and Anna Chernova in Moscow 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he will be vaccinated against coronavirus in the next 24 hours.

“Vaccination is voluntary. This is a personal decision of each person. By the way, I intend to do it myself tomorrow,” Putin said during a live televised video conference on vaccinations in Russia.

Putin did not specify which vaccine he will be taking. Russia became the first country in the world to register a Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V, in August last year. Russia has since approved two other vaccines for emergency use.

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov later said that Putin would be vaccinated with one of the three Russian vaccines, without disclosing which one the president had chosen, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

"This will be one of our three vaccines," said the Kremlin spokesperson, answering a related question. "They are all good and reliable." Peskov said.

Russia has reported a total of 4,466,153 cases and 95,391 coronavirus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the country’s coronavirus task force.