March 25 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

Updated 0635 GMT (1435 HKT) March 26, 2021
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7:59 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for kids 12-15 by the start of school year

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for children ages 12 to 15 by the start of the upcoming school year, Dr. William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said Thursday. 

Pfizer says it has evaluated its vaccine in 2,259 children between 12 and 15 years-old and plans to share safety and efficacy data soon. 

“Our goal is to get this information submitted to the FDA as soon as possible,” Gruber told NBC. “If all goes as planned, the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds could be ready as soon as the start of the next school year.” 

The entire population could benefit from school-age kids getting vaccinated, Gruber noted. 

“I think that adding the school-age population, based on recommendations from the FDA and the CDC, could go a long way in helping us reach herd protection,” he said. 

Gruber explained what these trials aim to find. 

“I think we need to see what the immune response, in short, is, specifically, how much antibody they make that can kill the virus. Is it comparable to what we see in adults?” he said. “If it is, then I think we have reason to have great confidence that the vaccine will likely protect children as well as it does adults.” 

Gruber noted that Pfizer also aims to ensure children don’t have side effects to the vaccine that are more extreme than those seen in adults. 

Some context: This week, the first children received a shot in phase 1 of Pfizer-BioNTech’s trial of children under the age of 12. The company expects results by the end of 2021.  

 

6:25 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

More than 500 unaccompanied migrant children have Covid-19 in US shelters

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

More than 500 unaccompanied migrant children currently held in US government shelters have tested positive for Covid-19, federal officials said Thursday, underscoring the challenges the Biden administration faces as it sees a surge of children arriving at the US-Mexico border.

A spokesperson for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency charged with caring for migrant children, said a total of 528 children are in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, amounting to about 4.4% of children currently in custody. None have required hospitalization.

About 11,900 unaccompanied migrant children are presently in ORR custody. The test data does not include Covid-19 cases identified from emergency intake sites, such as the Dallas convention center.

Some context: Since March 24, 2020, there have been a total of 3,715 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases among migrant children, ORR said.

Critics of the Biden administration's immigration policy, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have alleged, without evidence, that migrants coming into his state are exposing residents to coronavirus.

But the data suggests a relatively low rate of infection among migrant children. The seven-day average positivity rate in Texas was 6.1% on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

5:34 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

EU will "step up and speed up" Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution in Europe

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

European Council President Charles Michel speaks with EU leaders, via videoconference link, during a EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, March 25.
European Council President Charles Michel speaks with EU leaders, via videoconference link, during a EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, March 25. Yves Herman/Pool/AP

 

The European Union will “step up and speed up” Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution in Europe “over the next few weeks,” President of the European Council Charles Michel said on Thursday.

“We are trying to take an inventory of the work that has been done. Over the next few weeks we hope to step up and speed up the production and distribution of vaccines to member states,” Michel said after chairing a meeting of the 27 member states.

"It's absolutely vital of course that we keep on working to improve vaccine production in Europe, and improve our ability to distribute those to member states,” he added.

5:40 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Connecticut opens Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older starting April 1

From CNN's Sahar Akbarzai

CTN
CTN

All residents 16 and older in Connecticut can receive a Covid-19 vaccine starting April 1, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

Lamont announced that the state will administer over 200,000 first-dose vaccinations next week. 

So far, 80% of people 75 and over in the state have been vaccinated, the governor said.

There are 619,154 people who have been fully vaccinated across the state, and a total of 1,680,671 doses have been administered, according to the state’s Covid-19 dashboard. 

The state has created a $58 million budget to increase outreach and access in communities with low vaccination rates, including Black and Latino communities.

This budget will include methods of outreach such as door-to-door canvassing on vaccine awareness, the establishment of mobile clinics in communities, vaccination appointment settling and grants to local health departments and community organizations.  

“We’re doing everything we can to bring the vaccine to you,” and especially those most at risk, Lamont said.

“Trusted people are the best advocates to encourage others to get vaccinate,” the governor explained. 

5:27 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

North Carolina will expand Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 7

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Susan Morehead of Greensboro receives her COVID-19 vaccination from Air Force medical technician Jade Loftus at the FEMA-supported mass vaccination site outside Four Season Town Centre mall, Wednesday, March 10, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Susan Morehead of Greensboro receives her COVID-19 vaccination from Air Force medical technician Jade Loftus at the FEMA-supported mass vaccination site outside Four Season Town Centre mall, Wednesday, March 10, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal/AP/FILE

North Carolina will be expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 7, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

“I’m encouraged that North Carolina will be able to open eligibility to all adults well ahead of the President’s May 1st goal,” Cooper said in a news conference.

The state's health secretary, Mandy Cohen, laid out details of the accelerated timeline, saying the state would be moving forward and opening vaccination eligibility to groups 4 and 5 with the rest of Group 4 being eligible to sign up to receive vaccines on March 31.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, starting next week, the rest of group 4 individuals are defined as additional essential workers and people living in other congregate settings such as student dormitories will be eligible for vaccination. According to the state's Department of Health and Human Services, group 5 individuals consist of “everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.”

As of Thursday, North Carolina has administered 4.3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and according to Cooper at least a third of the state’s adult population has received at least one shot.

3:30 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Mexico's coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000

From Karol Suarez

Mexico's health ministry has reported 200,211 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The ministry reported 584 new deaths Thursday.

Mexico has the third-highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world. The US has the most, followed by Brazil.

3:18 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Chile goes into new lockdown amid rapid surge in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Florencia Trucco

A soldier checks a pedestrian's ID at a checkpoint in Santiago, on March 25, as a new quarantine began Chile, due to a sharp increase in new cases of covid-19.
A soldier checks a pedestrian's ID at a checkpoint in Santiago, on March 25, as a new quarantine began Chile, due to a sharp increase in new cases of covid-19. Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

A new lockdown is in effect in Chile due to a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, authorities have announced.

The country has been reporting between 7,000 to 8,000 new cases daily and hospital intensive care unit occupancy rates are at 95% with both Covid and non-Covid patients, according to authorities.

At Thursday's daily news conference health authorities said "several patients" with the British and Brazilian variants have been detected. 

"We are experiencing a worrying situation and we are concerned as a health authority and as a government. We ask the residents of Chile to share this concern," Chile's Health Minister Enrique Paris said.

The lockdown will affect more than 13 million people and will include the Santiago metropolitan area. Most colleges and schools will remain open but all nonessential stores will be closed. Authorities are also urging people to avoid nonessential travel.

The surge in cases comes despite Chile's elaborate vaccination campaign, which is seen as one of the most successful in the region. At least 6 million people in Chile, about a third of the population, have already received at least one dose.

Despite the domestic challenges, and without affecting Chile's own vaccination campaign, President Sebastián Piñera said on Tuesday that his country will continue collaborating with other countries in the region to help with vaccines, oxygen and medical supplies.

Chile has already helped Peru with oxygen supplies, Paraguay and Ecuador with vaccines, and has provided logistical support for the transportation of vaccines to Uruguay, Piñera said.

Chile reported 7,023 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to at least 954,762. Health authorities also reported 122 new deaths, bringing the total to at least 22,524 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

3:30 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Three additional regions in France added for strictest measures

From CN's Pierre Bairin

French Health Minister Olivier Veran delivers a press conference on the current French government strategy for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Paris, on March 25.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran delivers a press conference on the current French government strategy for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Paris, on March 25. Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Three additional regions in France will join 16 already under strict restrictions, French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced Thursday.

“Epidemic pressure has reached alarming levels” in the regions of Nièvre, Rhône and Aube, Véran said.

A total of 19 regions in France will now be subjected to the strictest measures in the country. The strict measures are not quite a full lockdown, as schools remain open. However, nonessential stores are closed and people’s movement will be limited within a roughly six-mile radius unless compelling business or health reasons to travel further. 

The entire country is following a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time. Working from home is encouraged as much as possible.

The health minister explained a stricter lockdown that would include the closure of schools was not considered at this stage saying, “First, the virus does not circulate everywhere in the same way and with the same intensity. For example, the Finistère region (Brittany) is ten times less affected than Seine Saint-Denis (Paris suburb),” he said.

Véran also said that “after a year of collective struggle,” they consulted local officials and considered “the acceptability of the measures by the population.”

"It is too early to judge whether the measures are effective and sufficiently effective. The measures decided last week could show their effects by this weekend at the earliest,” he added, indicating that currently there are 1,410 patients in intensive care in the Paris region.

“More than 45,000 French people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in these 24 hours,” Veran said, before adding, "There is an acceleration of the epidemic almost everywhere – the situation is the most worrying in the Paris region, in northern France and in the riviera region.”

He said people in intensive care are younger when compared to November and December, something he attributes to the new coronavirus variants. 

Véran said that as of Thursday evening, more than 7 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 2.5 million have received both doses. “By mid-April, so within three weeks, we will have vaccinated more than 10 million people, a majority of the people most vulnerable to the virus,” he added.

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.