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
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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.

8:34 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

The largest US school district is reopening high schools for in-person learning today

From CNN's Dakin Andone

School buses are parked at a bus depot in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 19, 2020 in New York City.
School buses are parked at a bus depot in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 19, 2020 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York City is set to reopen its public high schools today, welcoming some students back to in-person learning about a year after schools first closed because of Covid-19.

The majority of high school students in the nation's largest school district will continue remote instruction.

But as many as 55,000 students between grades 9 and 12 who previously opted for in-person learning are expected to return Monday, officials said earlier this month. That's about 20% of the district's high school enrollmentCNN affiliate WABC reported.

About half of the city's high schools will be able to provide in-person learning five days a week to all or most of their students, New York's new Education Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said in a news conference on March 8 with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In a message to families Friday, Porter said high schools would follow the same protective measures that have been established for younger students who have returned to the classroom, like weekly random testing of students and staff, physical distancing and masks.

Additionally, with spring break set to begin on March 29, students and staff who travel to a place on the state's travel advisory list must quarantine for 10 days, according to the Department of Education, or test out based on state guidelines.

The mayor said children had experienced increased emotional turmoil in the last year during the pandemic, saying in the news conference earlier this month, "Think about the children we've lost to suicide."

"Think about that child that right now is feeling a little hopeless and lonely, what it's going to mean for them on Monday, March 22nd, when they walk back through the door of their high school, see their friends, see their teachers, and have hope again," de Blasio said.

8:29 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Here's why experts worry spring break crowds in Miami Beach could spark another Covid-19 surge

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

People gather in Miami Beach, Florida as an 8pm curfew goes into effect on March 21.
People gather in Miami Beach, Florida as an 8pm curfew goes into effect on March 21. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Some travelers have landed in popular spring break destinations like Florida, where local officials say the vacationers have been more than they can handle.

On Saturday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared a state of emergency and set a curfew, telling CNN too many people were coming "without the intention of following the rules, and the result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure."

Saturday night, hundreds of mostly maskless people remained in the streets well after the 8 p.m. ET curfew. With sirens blaring, police opened fire with pepper balls — a chemical irritant similar to paint balls — into the crowd, causing a stampede of people fleeing, video from CNN affiliate WPLG shows.

Florida has so far reported the highest number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant — which experts say is highly contagious and potentially more deadly — in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I wish that folks would at least mask up," emergency physician Dr. Megan Ranney told CNN Sunday, referring to the spring break crowds. "I expect that very few of those young adults have been vaccinated and watching them gather together in those crowds, even outside, gives me fear that they're going to bring that B.1.1.7 variant back to their home state and spread it."

Other experts have voiced the same concern, warning all the returning vacationers could help fuel Covid-19 surges in other parts of the country, especially now that vaccination numbers are still so low.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently continues to recommend that Americans delay travel. And earlier this month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned that every time travel escalates, a spike in infections tend to follow, citing July 4, Labor Day and the winter holiday season.

"We are very worried about transmissible variants. A lot of them have come through our travel corridors, so we're being extra cautious right now with travel," Walensky had told CNN.

CNN's Melissa Alonso and Theresa Waldrop contributed reporting to this post.

9:04 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

TSA screens more than 1.5 million people at US airports for the first time since the pandemic started

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport on March 9.
Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport on March 9. Rick Bowmer/AP

Spring break air travel just set yet another record of the pandemic, even as health experts warn it’s “crunch time” against the spread of coronavirus and its new variants. 

The Transportation Security Administration says it screened 1,543,115 people at airports nationwide on Sunday, beating a record set only two days prior and surpassing the 1.5 million level for the first time since air travel crashed due to Covid-19. That brings the total number of people who have flown in the last week to 9.8 million. It’s also the eleventh straight day that TSA has screened more than a million people each day.

Numbers continue to trend up. By comparison, Sunday’s new number is 70 percent of the TSA count from the same day in 2019, pre-pandemic. 1.5 million is almost three times greater than the same-day figure in 2020 when air travel was at its most depressed.

Health experts who are closely following travel data have said new figures could inform how the CDC crafts new guidance on travel for those who are fully vaccinated. 

"This is crunch time," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN on Saturday. "This is going to be our most difficult period right now in terms of seeing who wins out."

Read more on whether the US is headed for another surge:

7:53 a.m. ET, March 22, 2021

Tokyo's Covid-19 state of emergency lifted as the city prepares for the Olympic Games later this year

From Chie Kobayashi in Tokyo and CNN's Chandler Thornton

Commuters wearing face masks cross a street in Tokyo, Japan on March 22.
Commuters wearing face masks cross a street in Tokyo, Japan on March 22. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

The state of emergency for Tokyo and its last three surrounding prefectures was lifted as of Sunday, according to Tokyo's Municipal Government.

With today's announcement, no more prefectures are under state of emergency.

"Everyone is asked to refrain from non-essential outings. Please keep meals short and limited to family members or the usual four people. Please also wear a mask during conversations and remove them only for eating and drinking. Also, from March 22 to 31st, restaurants should only be open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and serving of alcoholic beverages should be limited to 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m," a notice from the government read.

The state of emergency had been in place for Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures since January and was extended again in February after Covid-19 cases continued to rise.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had signaled the state of emergency would be lifted in a press conference last week as Tokyo's Covid-19 daily numbers have been below 500 for 40 straight days.

"The number of hospitalized patients is decreasing and has become under 50%, the standard for lifting, and now is below 40%," Suga said.

At a general party meeting Sunday, Suga urged people to remain vigilant. 

"We should continue to be careful of variant viruses and prevent 'rebound' from taking place," the prime minister said.

Why this matters: Tokyo's Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5, though organizers recently announced they would not allow foreign spectators to enter and will refund their tickets.

Tokyo reported 256 new Covid-19 cases from Sunday, bringing its total number of cases to 117,517, including 1,636 deaths from the virus.