March 25 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

Updated 0635 GMT (1435 HKT) March 26, 2021
10 Posts
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10:35 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Florida will allow all people over age 18 to get Covid-19 vaccinations starting April 5

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers  

A health care worker directs people at a vaccination site in North Miami, Florida, on March 10.
A health care worker directs people at a vaccination site in North Miami, Florida, on March 10. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida will open up Covid-19 vaccination eligibility to all over people over the age of 18 starting on April 5, the governor announced.  

The state will phase in lowering the age eligibility for vaccinations, with all people 40 and up being allowed to get vaccinated starting Monday, then expand eligibility to all people over 18 the following week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in the news release.  

Currently, Florida is allowing people over 50, people with some medical conditions and those with essential jobs to get the vaccine.  

“We have made great progress and I look forward to continuing to work hard to make sure everyone in Florida who wants a shot, can get a shot,” the governor said in a prepared video.  

  “No mandate, but access for all,” DeSantis said  

10:32 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Biden is expected to announce a new US vaccination goal today

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins 

U.S. President Joe Biden replaces his face mask following an event in Washington, DC on March 24.
U.S. President Joe Biden replaces his face mask following an event in Washington, DC on March 24. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to announce his new vaccination goal today, according to two sources familiar with the plans. He will hold his first news conference at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Last week, Biden hinted he could double his original goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days, which he cleared long before that date.

In recent days, Biden has consulted with his advisers and health experts on what a new, realistic goal would be and plans to announce it Thursday. 

Biden said that if Americans continue to get vaccinated and follow health and safety guidelines, there is a "good chance" that family and friends will be able to celebrate the Fourth of July together in small groups. 

The President directed states to make all adults eligible to get Covid-19 vaccines by May 1.

8:01 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

The CDC is tracking a recent uptick in Covid-19 cases. Its chief says spring breakers and eased restrictions concern her

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

People play volleyball in Daytona Beach, on March 24, as college students arrive in Florida for spring break.
People play volleyball in Daytona Beach, on March 24, as college students arrive in Florida for spring break. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Top US health officials say they're encouraged by the accelerating Covid-19 vaccinations.

But not enough Americans are fully vaccinated yet to suppress the spread of the virus -- and eased restrictions across the country coupled with spring break crowds could spell trouble, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday.

"What concerns me is the footage of what's happening in spring breakers, in people who are not continuing to implement prevention strategies while we get fully scaled up," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing.

The coming weeks are especially critical: Covid-19 cases in the country have seen a slight increase, according to Walensky, while a highly contagious -- and potentially more deadly -- variant is circulating. Some experts have warned that by getting lax with safety measures, the country could see infections surge again.

And Walensky said that the latest Covid-19 data has her worried.

"Cases continue to increase slightly. The most recent seven-day average is nearly 55,000 per day, up about 3% from the prior seven-day average. The most recent seven-day average of new hospitalizations is about 4,600 per day and is similar to the data on Monday. And the latest seven-day average of deaths -- approximately 968 per day -- has also remained flat this week," Walensky said Wednesday.

"I continue to be worried about the latest data, and the apparent stall we are seeing in the trajectory of the pandemic," Walensky said. "CDC is watching these numbers very closely."
8:42 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

"One mistake after the other." How AstraZeneca went from pandemic hero to villain

From CNN Business' Julia Horowitz in London

After teaming up with Oxford University, AstraZeneca produced a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine in just nine months, a huge achievement that will help end the pandemic. But a series of missteps along the way has led to scathing criticism from policymakers and health officials, tarnishing the company's image as a hero of the coronavirus era.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker mistakenly gave some volunteers a half dose of the vaccine during clinical trials, and it has been criticized for omitting crucial information from its public statements. US regulators have questioned the accuracy of its vaccine data, and severe production delays in Europe have resulted in a political firestorm and a breakdown in relations with EU leaders.

"What we have with AstraZeneca is a company that is not straightforward, that cannot be relied upon," Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian member of the European Parliament, said in a radio interview with the BBC on Wednesday.

AstraZeneca's (AZN) failure to deliver tens of millions of promised doses to the European Union, which is struggling to roll out vaccination programs, led the bloc to impose export restrictions that have already prevented at least one shipment of vaccines to Australia. Leaders could move to make the restrictions even tighter Thursday.

Meanwhile, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases expressed concerns earlier this week that AstraZeneca had presented "outdated" data from a trial of the vaccine's effectiveness. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the agency's director, called it "an unforced error" that could erode trust in a "very good vaccine."

AstraZeneca updated its data on Thursday, reporting that the trials showed its vaccine to be 76% effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms. Earlier this week, it had said its shot was 79% effective. The rare rebuke from US regulators was a major blow to the company's credibility.

"They've made one mistake after the other," said Jeffrey Lazarus, head of the health systems research group at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

Read more:

7:08 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

France's Macron admits failures in vaccine rollout amid surge in Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Saskya Vandoorne in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron visits a Covid-19 vaccination center in Valenciennes, France, on March 23.
French President Emmanuel Macron visits a Covid-19 vaccination center in Valenciennes, France, on March 23. Yoan Valat/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron has admitted failures in the country's vaccination campaign and vowed to accelerate the rollout, days after the government was forced to impose new coronavirus restrictions to contain a surge of Covid-19 sweeping the country.

“We weren’t fast enough, strong enough on it,” Macron told Greek television channel ERT Wednesday, in a rare admission of failure regarding Europe’s vaccination efforts. 

“We didn’t shoot for the stars as much as others. I think that should be a lesson for all of us. We were wrong to lack ambition, to lack the madness, to say, ‘It’s possible, let’s do it’,” Macron said.

“You can give that to the Americans, as early as the summer of 2020 they said: let’s pull out all the stops and do it. They had more ambition than us,” he said in the interview, “We didnt think [the production of a vaccine] would happen that quickly.”

He added, “Everybody, all the experts said: Never in the history of mankind was a vaccine developed in less than a year.”

On Tuesday, the French president declared the vaccination campaign a “national priority,” promising to put the rollout at the heart of the country's Covid-19 battle.

As of Monday, 9.3% of the total French population had been partially vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. 

Last week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new coronavirus restrictions in 16 regions, including the greater Paris and Nice areas, as the country attempts to contain a third wave of infections.

Outdoor social gatherings of more than six people are now illegal in France, as part of efforts to contain the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, an interior ministry spokeswoman told CNN Thursday.

France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin told police chiefs Wednesday to “be strict” with the rule of six, particularly in the 16 regions that are under lockdown lite, according to the spokeswoman. 

The new measures, which went into effect Friday at midnight, will last at least four weeks but are less restrictive than measures imposed in March and November of last year.

7:17 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Why are more young people getting sick with Covid-19 in Brazil?

From CNN's Matt Rivers in São Paulo

It took only 10 days from start to finish, from the time 28-year-old Graciane da Silva got sick to the time she died.

She was alone when she passed away in a Rio de Janeiro Hospital -- her mom, Maria da Penha da Silva Siqueira, thinks about that often.

"It never crossed our mind that it would happen to her," said da Silva Siqueira. "It was too fast. This virus does not let us say goodbye."

Da Silva, who left behind a 4-year-old son, died of Covid-19 in June of last year. At the time, hers was a slightly more unusual death.

During the first part of Brazil's struggle with the coronavirus, it was the elderly who made up the majority of those who were getting sick and dying from Covid-19.

But since the new year, Brazil has descended into its worst days of this pandemic so far. Daily death and case numbers have shattered previous records.

Brazil reached the grim milestone of more than 300,000 Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, a day after recoding more than 3,000 fatalities -- its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, health ministry data shows.

In response to the mounting death toll, Brazil's health ministry has moved the goalposts for recording fatalities.

"After a record number of deaths registered on Monday, the Ministry of Health changed the criteria for the registration of deaths due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in the Sivep Gripe system yesterday, causing the addition of deaths by Covid-19 in the state of Sao Paulo to plummet today," Sao Paulo’s government said Wednesday on their official website.

Amid the surge, a worrying pattern has emerged -- more young people seem to be getting severely ill and dying from Covid-19, doctors tell CNN.

The question is why: Is a new variant infecting more young people and making them sicker? Are young people behaving in ways that make them more likely to become infected? Could it be some combination of both?

Read the full story:

6:12 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

India detects new 'double mutant' variant as Covid-19 cases spike, raising fears of a second wave

From CNN's Jessie Yeung and Esha Mitra

India has discovered a new "double mutant" variant of Covid-19, as the country struggles to contain a spike in cases that's raising fears of a second wave.

"VOCs (variants of concern) and a new double mutant variant have been found in India," the country's Ministry of Health said in a news release on Wednesday, adding that "genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies are continuing to further analyze the situation."

A "double mutant" variant is a virus strain that carries two mutations. It's not yet clear how many infections have been linked to this double mutant variant, or whether the strain is any more dangerous, but the ministry said "such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity."

According to the ministry, the number of known cases linked to the double mutation was not high enough to explain the current nationwide surge in infections,

India recorded 53,476 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday -- the highest single-day rise in five months. The last time the daily count was this high was October 23, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Ministry of Health.

Read the full story:

3:15 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

US surpasses 30 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Deanna Hackney

The United States has surpassed 30 million cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

As of 3 a.m. Eastern Time, at least 30,009,773 Covid-19 infections and 545,237 virus-related deaths have been reported in the US, per JHU.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.    

Vaccines: At least 169,223,125 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 107,060,274 total doses administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine website. 

At least 85,472,166 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and at least 46,365,515 people are now fully vaccinated, the website shows. 

CNN is tracking US cases here.

           

2:48 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

New AstraZeneca report says vaccine was 76% effective in preventing Covid-19 symptoms

From CNN Health's Maggie Fox

A medical worker fills a syringe from a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Rome, on March 24.
A medical worker fills a syringe from a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Rome, on March 24. Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Drug giant AstraZeneca updated its data on how well its coronavirus vaccine works, saying late Wednesday the vaccine showed 76% efficacy against symptomatic coronavirus disease and 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease or the need for hospitalization.

The vaccine was 85% effective in preventing symptoms in volunteers 65 and older, the company said.

The numbers are not terribly different from data the company released in a statement Monday. On Monday, AstraZeneca said its Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization.

As with Monday's data, the company has released them via news release and not in a peer-reviewed report or as a formal submission for US Food and Drug Administration review.

"The primary analysis is consistent with our previously released interim analysis, and confirms that our COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in adults, including those aged 65 years and over. We look forward to filing our regulatory submission for Emergency Use Authorization in the US and preparing for the rollout of millions of doses across America," Mene Pangalos, executive vice president for biopharmaceuticals research for the company, said in a statement.

Concerns raised in US: On Tuesday, the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) that reviews data from multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates expressed concern over AstraZeneca's announcements on its latest findings, and, unusually, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases publicly announced those concerns.

"The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data," the NIAID, which has helped AstraZeneca run trials in the US, said.
"We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible."

Read the full story: