March 23 coronavirus news

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

Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT) March 24, 2021
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7:55 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Brazil records its highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic started

From Fernanda Wenzel and Natalie Gallon

Brazil on Tuesday recorded 3,251 new deaths due to Covid-19 – its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began and the first time it has posted more than 3,000 coronavirus-related deaths in a day, according to the country’s health ministry.  

Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll now stands at 298,676, with the previous record of highest daily deaths coming only last week.  

Additionally, 82,493 new cases of coronavirus were also reported across the country, bringing the total country cases registered so far to 12,130,019.  

5:56 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Concerns about AstraZeneca vaccine data don't seem to be related to safety, WHO says 

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

 Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images/FILE
 Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images/FILE

The concerns raised about AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine efficacy data don't seem to be related to safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) told CNN in a statement Tuesday. 

AstraZeneca announced Monday that US trial data on its Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization. It was a news release and not the official release of data to be used by the US Food and Drug Administration in determining whether to grant emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

In a statement released Tuesday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) highlighted concerns raised by the trial's Data and Safety Monitoring Board that AstraZeneca used outdated information from the trial. 

“As we understand it, the NIAID concerns seem related to efficacy data, not safety,” WHO said. “WHO has neither seen the data from the AZ clinical trials in the US, nor specifics about NIAID concerns.”  

WHO said its emergency use listings and advisory group recommendations for AstraZeneca vaccines from SKBio and Serum Institute of India stand. 

“We will look forward to the scientific review of the clinical trials in the US, Chile, and Peru,” WHO added. 

4:37 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

All Georgia residents 16 and older can receive a vaccine starting Thursday

From CNN’s Jade Gordon and Devon Sayers

A woman gets a COVID-19 shot at the mass vaccination site located at the Delta Flight Museum, Monday, February 22, in Atlanta.
A woman gets a COVID-19 shot at the mass vaccination site located at the Delta Flight Museum, Monday, February 22, in Atlanta. John Bazemore/AP/FILE

All Georgians age 16 and older can receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting Thursday, the state announced ahead of a scheduled news conference this afternoon. 

Gov. Brian Kemp will receive his vaccination on Friday, his press secretary Mallory Blount told CNN. 

Vaccinations were previously open in Georgia to people 55 and older, those with certain medical conditions, caregivers or with specific essential jobs.  

Georgia has administered over two million first doses of vaccine, according to the state Department of Health. 

Georgia is home to the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. The state has a population of more than 10.5 million people, according to the US Census Bureau. 

3:52 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Here's a timeline for when some US states will begin expanding Covid-19 vaccine eligibility

From CNN’s Ashley Ahn, Jacqueline Howard, and Virginia Langmaid

Three states have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone over 16, and at least 19 more plan to open up to people 16 and older by the end of April.

Alaska opened up vaccinations to anyone 16 and older on March 9, Mississippi on March 16, and West Virginia expanded on March 22. Oklahomans 16 and older can get vaccinated through the Chickasaw Nation’s vaccination program, but not yet through the state’s program. 

Below is the timeline for when some other states have said they will open vaccination eligibility to all people over the age of 16:

  • March 24: Utah and state-run sites in certain Arizona counties
  • March 29: Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota
  • April 1: Montana
  • April 5: Connecticut, Michigan
  • April 9: Missouri
  • April 12: Illinois
  • April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
  • April 26: Idaho
  • April 27: Maryland
  • April, no set date: New Mexico, Virginia, Iowa
  • May 1: Wisconsin, Oregon, South Dakota
  • May 3: South Carolina
  • May or later: Nebraska, Kansas, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Delaware

For all states currently vaccinating anyone over 16, people ages 16 or 17 can only receive a Pfizer vaccine, as it is the only option authorized for use in that population so far. Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are authorized for use in adults 18 and older.

4:46 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

CDC hopes to study 13,000 pregnant women for each authorized coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Keri Enriquez

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hopes to enroll about 13,000 pregnant people for each of the three authorized coronavirus vaccines to see how pregnancy might affect vaccine safety. 

The agency will use existing and new safety monitoring systems, including its V-safe pregnancy registry, a CDC spokesperson told CNN Tuesday.

“We are leveraging existing systems to assess safety, as well as rapidly established new systems, to capture this information and we're committed to doing it, and CDC is committed, to getting pregnant women the information that they need,” a CDC spokesperson told CNN.

V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after people receive a Covid-19 vaccine. The V-safe COVID-19 pregnancy registry is for V-safe users who are willing to provide additional data and information to participate in further study through telephone interviews. 

As of March 22, 60,448 pregnant women have registered with the V-safe health database and 3,612 of them have additionally joined the V-safe pregnancy registry. The CDC is building the infrastructure to follow these women and add more participants to study, and noted that most women who have been contacted to participate agree to join, the spokesperson told CNN. 

Registry staff will call participants multiple times during their pregnancies and when the baby is about 3 months old. During these check-ins, mothers will be asked questions about medical and obstetric history, pregnancy complications, birth outcomes, and obstetric and they will be asked for access to their medical records to get a bigger picture and more detailed and technical information that participants may not recall, a CDC spokesperson told CNN.

3:30 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Virginia will loosen statewide Covid-19 restrictions starting April 1, governor says

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Virginia Governor's office
Virginia Governor's office

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday announced he is rolling back restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings starting next week. 

"Starting on April 1, we will make some limited and targeted changes to our Forward Virginia guidelines," Gov. Northam said at a briefing Tuesday. 

"Social gatherings may have up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors," said Northam.

"Entertainment venues will be able to operate at 30% of capacity [with] up to 500 people indoors, outdoor venues can have up to 30%," Gov. Northam said.

The number of spectators allowed for outdoor recreational sports will increase to 500, while indoor recreation will be capped at 100 people, said Northam.

"Recreational sporting events indoors and outside will be limited to 30% of capacity," added Northam. 

"You need to wear a mask and follow other guidelines and safety protocols," said the governor. 

"To be very clear, we are not simply throwing the doors open," stressed Northam.

"If we continue to be careful, wearing our mask in public, washing our hands, keeping our distance and getting vaccinated, I expect our case counts will keep going down," said Northam.


3:15 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

FDA will allow plant to ship Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which should boost supply of the single-dose shot

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Catalent, the fill and finish plant in Bloomington, Indiana, that is helping to produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, said Tuesday it received an OK from the US Food and Drug Administration to ship the vaccine.

Catalent has been producing doses for the past couple months as Johnson & Johnson promised to deliver 20 million of its single-dose vaccine to the US government by the end of the March. 

Catalent had dedicated a line specifically to fill vials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and hired 300 additional staff to work 24/7 to produce it — but it needed FDA authorization to ship the product. 

“Today, Catalent is proud to announce the FDA has provided Emergency Use Authorization for our biologics site in Bloomington, Indiana, to produce and ship millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine,” a statement emailed to CNN said. “The site recently completed a major expansion and scale-up activities on a dedicated, high-speed vial-filling line to support the production of this important vaccine, and Catalent remains on track to meet the supply commitments of our agreement with Johnson & Johnson.”

Catalent would not say how many millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines it would be able to ship immediately. A spokesperson for the company told CNN it would be up to J&J to disclose that number. Asked by CNN how many doses would be available, Johnson & Johnson did not provide specifics.

Biden administration officials, meanwhile, told CNN this week they were not confident that Johnson & Johnson would be able to meet its self-imposed deadline to deliver 20 million coronavirus vaccines by the end of March. Johnson & Johnson has said it is on target to meet that goal.

Johnson & Johnson only had 4 million doses ready to ship when it was authorized by the FDA at the end of February. An additional 1.2 million doses have gone out since, meaning the company must have another 14.8 million ready in the next week to meet its goal. 

White House officials said Tuesday 4 million more J&J doses would be allocated this week.

2:24 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

White House told US governors there will be 27 million vaccine doses "across all channels" this week

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

White House press secretary Jen Psaki gave the latest update on vaccine doses available, saying there will be 27 million doses allocated across all channels this week.

Psaki said White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients made the announcement on the weekly call with governors on Tuesday. 

“Today in our weekly governors call, he (Zients) announced that we will have 27 million doses allocated across all channels this week. Of those 27 million doses, four million will be Johnson & Johnson. Two thirds of the 27 million doses will be going to states and jurisdictions and the rest will go to other channels such primarily the pharmacy program which has been very successful and we’ve been increasing supply to,” Psaki said.

Last week, the White House said there were more than 22 million doses being sent to all channels.

“This means that in 63 days since taking office we’ve more than tripled vaccine output,” Psaki added.

2:28 p.m. ET, March 23, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin gets his coronavirus vaccine

From CNN’s Matthew Chance

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been vaccinated against coronavirus, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Tuesday. 

“Putin was vaccinated against the coronavirus. (He) feels good. Tomorrow he has a full working day,” Peskov told CNN. 

No video or images of the vaccination process were immediately made available. Earlier, the Kremlin said it would not be a public event.

No information was provided on which coronavirus vaccine Putin had, but earlier the Kremlin said it would be one of the three approved Russian vaccines.