March 25 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

Updated 0635 GMT (1435 HKT) March 26, 2021
23 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Arizona lifts remaining Covid-19 restrictions on businesses

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Citing increased distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine and 10 weeks of declining cases, Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday announced updates to Arizona’s Covid-19 measures, including lifting requirements on the state’s businesses and events.

According to the governor’s new executive order, events of more than 50 people will no longer need the approval of local governments, previous requirements for businesses will transition to recommendations, but businesses will still be able to continue requiring masks and social distancing and bars are allowed to resume regular operations, but can require social distancing and masks if they want to.

Arizona never issued a statewide mask mandate, but local government mandates will be phased out, though mask usage is still encouraged, according to the order.

“In Arizona, we never did a shutdown, so it’s impossible to have a grand reopening. Instead, we are continuing to take reasonable, safe and sensible steps. The measures put in place last summer allowed Arizona to fight back COVID-19. I want to thank the local leaders who supported these efforts with their own measures, and the businesses who implemented them,” Ducey said in a statement about the order.

“Today, we are in a different spot, and we are also a lot smarter. I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to practice the fundamentals and act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal," he added. 

Covid-19 vaccinations were opened to anyone 16 years old and older at certain state-run sites in Arizona starting Wednesday.

This post has been updated with new details on when vaccinations opened to people 16 and older.

2:33 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

COVAX announces vaccine delivery delays from Serum Institute of India and AstraZeneca

From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Sarah Dean

Empty COVISHIELD vials, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, are seen at a vaccination center in Guwahati, India, on March 22.
Empty COVISHIELD vials, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, are seen at a vaccination center in Guwahati, India, on March 22. David Talukdar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to countries participating in the COVAX program will be delayed during March and April, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, announced in a news release on Thursday.

COVAX is a global vaccine-sharing initiative aimed at reducing vaccine inequality with discounted or free doses for lower-income countries.

The news release cited the government of India’s battle with a new wave of Covid-19 infections as the reason for the delay. On Wednesday, India's Ministry of Health announced it had 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.

“COVAX and the Government of India remain in discussions to ensure some supplies are completed during March and April,” the release said.

Gavi said according to its agreement with SII it is “contracted to provide COVAX with the SII-licensed and manufactured AstraZeneca (AZ)-Oxford vaccine (known as COVISHIELD) to over 60 lower-income economies participating in the Gavi COVAX AMC (including India), alongside its commitments to the Government of India.”

“To date, COVAX has been supplied with 28 million COVISHIELD doses and was expecting an additional 40 million doses to be available in March, and up to 50 million doses in April,” the release said. 

Economies participating in the COVAX facility that have been allocated AstraZeneca-manufactured doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine have also been informed that some of the first deliveries due in March are now set to take place in April, Gavi said. 

Remember: COVAX, which is run by a coalition including Gavi and the World Health Organization, uses donations from governments and multilateral institutions to buy vaccines for poorer nations that can't afford contracts with major drug companies.

The program has secured vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India, with hopes of additional doses from companies currently working to get regulatory approvals. But getting enough supplies has been difficult, in part because wealthier countries ordered more than they need.

The SII not only produces most of the vaccines for India – it is also responsible for many of the vaccines distributed to the rest of the world. In September last year, SII pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses for COVAX. But SII has had to halt or delay its exports several times in recent months as global and domestic demand surged.

2:31 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

California expands vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 15

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is seen at a hospital in San Diego on December 15.
Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is seen at a hospital in San Diego on December 15. Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images

All Californians over the age of 16 will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine on April 15, as supply allows, Gov. Gavin Newsom just announced.

Those aged 50 and older will be allowed to be vaccinated starting April 1.

More Covid-19 vaccine doses are expected in April, well above the 1.8 million vaccines the state has been receiving each week. California expects to begin receiving several million doses each week, beginning sometime next month.  

“Based on the current estimates, California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April,” a statement from the governor’s office said. 

California will continue to push vaccines toward those hardest hit by the pandemic. The state is partnering with organized labor and community-based organizations to vaccinate essential workers and agricultural workers.

2:29 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Peru records highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

From CNN's Claudia Rebaza

Peru reported 11,260 daily coronavirus cases, the highest daily number since the pandemic began, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

The country has seen its average daily cases increase by 31% since the beginning of March.

Lima is reporting almost 40% of new cases are the Brazilian P.1 variant, Health Minister Oscar Ugarte announced during a news conference on Wednesday evening.

“The main variant that causes Covid-19 in Lima reaches 39.7% and belongs to the Brazilian variant”, Ugarte said.

The overall number of coronavirus cases is 1,492,519, while the country’s death toll reached 50,656 after 182 new deaths were recorded.

Peru has the fifth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America, behind Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

2:09 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

United Kingdom extends emergency Covid-19 laws for 6 months

From CNN's Arnaud Siad and Sarah Dean

British lawmakers just approved a six month extension for coronavirus legislation that gives authorities emergency powers to address the pandemic.

The UK parliament approved the extension by a vote of 484 to 76 on Thursday.

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's televised address where he told the British public they "must stay at home".

The United Kingdom is coming out of a second wave of coronavirus. The extension will provide measures to fight against a third wave emerging in Europe.

1:48 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

European Medicines Agency sets up group to examine blood clot links

From CNN's Chloe Adams and Sarah Dean

Europe’s medicines regulator has announced it has asked a group of experts to provide their views on links to blood clots purportedly associated with some Covid-19 vaccines.

In a statement published on its website on Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced the new group will meet with the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) on March 29 to discuss the possible reasons why some people developed blood clots after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine “to gain a deeper understanding of the observed events and the potential risk.”

The new group includes experts in hematology, cardiovascular medicine, infectious diseases, virology, neurology, immunology and epidemiology.

The outcome of the meeting will feed into PRAC’s ongoing evaluation around blood clots links to the Covid-19 vaccine, with any updated recommendations expected to be announced during its April plenary meeting, which takes place between April 6 and April 9.

The EMA's announcement comes after its safety committee said on March 18 that investigations into the link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots had come to a clear scientific conclusion:

“This is a safe and effective vaccine,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke told a news conference after the committee had concluded.

However, the committee said it was unable to “rule out definitively” a possible link to blood clots.  

This led to the committee recommending vaccine patient information leaflets and information be provided to health care professionals and updated to include warnings about potential side effects, including low platelet levels and blood clotting disorders. The new updated advice is now available of their website

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said Friday that current available data does not indicate that recent reported blood clots following administration of AstraZeneca are connected to the vaccine. 

The committee noted that people naturally develop blood clots, and Covid-19 infection can also cause them. It said observed rates of these events have actually been lower than expected. Just because someone suffers a blood clot and was also recently vaccinated does not mean the vaccine caused the clot, the committee said.

12:58 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Pfizer begins vaccine trial for children between ages of 5 and 11

From CNN's Nadia Kounang and Amanda Sealy

Duke University researchers started testing Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12. The company told CNN at least two children have already gotten their first shot.

Pfizer vaccine currently has an emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for those 16 years old and older.

Pfizer is starting the trials first in children between 5 and 11 to determine the appropriate dose. Vaccines will start with 10 micrograms. If that dose is tolerated, the trial will escalate to 20 micrograms and then 30 micrograms. An adult dosage of Pfizer vaccine has 30 micrograms. There is also a 3 microgram option. As with adults, children will be on a two-dose schedule, 21 days apart.

If the 10 microgram dose is tolerated in the 5-11 year old group, the trial will follow the same process for children between the ages of 2 and 5. If tolerated in that age group, next would be vaccine trials for the youngest children, between 6 months and 2 years.

If 10 micrograms is tolerated in the 5-11 age group, the trial will also follow the same process for the 2-5 age group and then for the group of children 6 months to 2 years.

Pfizer has already evaluated the vaccine in 2,259 children between the ages of 12 and 15. The company told CNN the tolerability findings were strong enough among this age group to encourage trials in younger children. They anticipate being able to share the data about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in the older children age group soon.

 Results from the under-12 trial are expected by the end of 2021. 

12:20 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Sweden and Iceland partly resume AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Eleanor Pickston

Syringes are loaded with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine at the Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, on February 17.
Syringes are loaded with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine at the Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, on February 17. Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Iceland and Sweden are partly resuming their use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the Swedish Public Health Agency and the Icelandic Directorate of Health announced on Thursday.

“As the epidemic of COVID-19 is widespread in society throughout Europe and there has been an increase in the number of infections in Iceland recently, there is no doubt that there is a continuing need for this vaccine and that the benefits of its use outweigh the risks," the Icelandic Directorate of Health said in a statement.

The statement also said the vaccine could be safely used for people over the age of 70, and that “younger individuals who have not experienced serious side effects after the first dose will probably be able to complete the vaccination with the same vaccine.”

The statement adds the vaccine will likely be made available to people between the age of 60 and 69.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Public Health Agency says in its statement that vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine could continue for people aged 65 and over, saying the the European Medicines Agency (EMA) “had determined that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks.”

The statement further states that “it cannot be ruled out that some rare cases of serious side effects may be associated with the vaccine. However, these suspected cases have so far only been reported among younger people, not in people over 65.”

As a result, the vaccine will not be used in Sweden for people under the age of 65 “pending further safety data for those ages.”

“The vaccine is very useful for the elderly, many become seriously ill with Covid-19 every day. At the same time, we have not seen a risk of these rare and serious side effects in the elderly. That is the reason why we are lifting the suspension of the vaccine for people over the age of 65," Johan Carlson, director general of the Swedish Public Health Agency, said in the statement.

Remember: On March 11, Iceland suspended its use of the vaccine while waiting for advice from the European Medicines Agency. The Swedish Health Ministry also paused its rollout of the vaccine on March 16 while awaiting investigation by the European Medicines Agency and its Swedish equivalent.

On March 18, the EMA’s safety committee concluded its preliminary review of a signal of blood clots in people vaccinated with AstraZeneca, stating “the benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 (which itself results in clotting problems and may be fatal) continue to outweigh the risk of side effects.”

On Wednesday, Iceland announced a three-week tightening of restrictions following a new group of infections that have broken out in the country involving the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in England.

11:49 a.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Biden will announce new vaccine goal of 200 million shots by first 100 days in office

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Biden will announce a new coronavirus vaccine goal of 200 million shots in arms in his first 100 days in office at his 1:15 p.m. ET news conference today, a White House official tells CNN. 

CNN reported yesterday that Biden was expected to announce his new goal at the news conference and that he had strongly hinted he would double his original goal 100 million shots in his first 100 days, which he cleared in 58 days.

The announcement comes after Biden in recent days has consulted with his advisers and health experts on what a new, realistic goal would be. 

The current US seven-day average is about 2.5 million doses per day. That pace would get the country to more than 205 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by day 100 of Biden's presidency.