March 29 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Joshua Berlinger, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Christopher Johnson, CNN

Updated 7:50 p.m. ET, March 30, 2021
18 Posts
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12:00 p.m. ET, March 29, 2021

CDC director gives emotional warning of "impending doom" around Covid-19

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on March 18, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on March 18, in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

After announcing that the United States has surpassed 30 million cases of Covid-19, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a virtual White House briefing on Monday she had a feeling of "impending doom,” saying that “right now, I’m scared.”

"Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen. I'm going to pause here. I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," Walensky said, appearing to tear up.

"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I'm scared," Walensky said.

"I know what it's like as a physician to stand in that patient room — gowned, gloved, masked, shielded — and to be the last person to touch someone else's loved one, because they are not able to be there," she continued.

Walensky said that the United States has come "such a long way" with three authorized vaccines and pleaded with the nation to keep following mitigation measures and "just please hold on a little while longer."

She went on to further explain why she worries about "impending doom," referencing how the country has seen a steady increase of coronavirus infections.

"What we've seen over the last week or so is a steady rise of cases," Walensky said. "I know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again."

Watch the moment:

11:09 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Germany urges countries to step up funding for global vaccination effort

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Chloe Adams

Germany has urged countries to increase their funding for global vaccination efforts, singling out the United States, China and Russia, as well as EU countries.

Gerd Müller, Germany’s Minister for Development Cooperation, claimed there is a shortfall global funding of $29 billion (or 25 billion euros) needed to achieve the objective of vaccinating at least 25% of people in the poorest countries.  

Müller said vaccine production must be accelerated to vaccinate people in Africa, Latin America, Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean islands who are “are amongst the biggest victims of this pandemic.” He added that it is “shocking” that of the 536 million vaccine doses administered so far, 76% have gone to only ten mostly high income countries.

“Germany has increased its contribution by $1.77 billion (1.5 billion euros) recently, and I urge the world community international community and the European Union [...] But the urge goes to other countries as well, China, Russia, the United States who re-joined WHO,” he said at a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

 “Let us act differently from the 1990s, where we left the poorest behind during the HIV pandemic that was not only inhumane. It is something we all will have to pay a price for again, we can only win this fight if we win it globally,” Müller continued.
11:44 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions, CDC says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A healthcare professional administers a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Dublin, Ireland, on March 20.
A healthcare professional administers a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Dublin, Ireland, on March 20. Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Under real-world conditions, the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines provide highly effective protection, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At full vaccination, the vaccines were 90% effective at preventing infections, including infections that had no symptoms. At a single dose, they were 80% protective, according to the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Monday.

The study looked at how the vaccines protected nearly 4,000 health care workers and first responders. The volunteers in the study worked in eight locations around the country and had been observed from mid-December to mid-March.

The CDC tested volunteers routinely regardless of symptoms. The CDC also monitored the volunteers through text message, e-mails and direct medical reports. The volunteers also did a nasal swab once a week.

Most of the volunteers, more than 62%, had received both doses of either a Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. More than 12% had received just a single dose.

Among the 2,961 people vaccinated with one or more doses and the 989 unvaccinated participants, a total of 205 had a positive PCR test for Covid-19, more than 87% of those cases had symptoms. Nearly 23% of the cases sought help from a doctor. There were two hospitalizations, but no deaths.

The results of this study are similar to what scientists saw in clinical trials for the vaccines, but studies like this are important to show how effective the vaccines are, particularly in a population that, through their work, can encounters a large number of people who have Covid-19.

“Reducing the risk for transmissible infection, which can occur among persons with asymptomatic infection or among persons several days before symptoms onset, is especially important among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers given their potential to transmit the virus through frequent close contact with patients and the public,” the report concluded.  

11:22 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Upcoming WHO report will deem Covid-19 lab leak extremely unlikely, source says

From CNN’s Sandi Sidhu

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

A report on the origins of Covid-19 set to be released by the World Health Organization Tuesday finds animal to human transmission the most likely cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a source with knowledge of the report.

The source said the report will find that it is most likely that “a bat, somewhere in China or in Southeast Asia, getting the virus into animals into the intermediate house, maybe in these wildlife farms that were very common at the time across South China, and then that getting into the market in Wuhan.”

The report deems it extremely unlikely that Covid-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab, according to the source. 

“We just found no really tangible evidence or real leads on that, despite asking a lot of quite hard questions that were asked to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” the source told CNN.

The report will also find the theory that the virus was imported to China in frozen food is possible, but not the most likely source of the spread, according to the source. 

“It's certainly true that this virus can survive freezing and you know it's possible that this could have happened, if you include in that frozen food cold chain pathway frozen wildlife and the type that carries coronaviruses, then it becomes much more plausible. In the end we came to the conclusion that it's a possible pathway, but not the most likely,” the source said.

10:09 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

CDC extends US pandemic eviction moratorium through June 30

From CNN's John Bonifield

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended a moratorium on evictions of tenants who are unable to make rental payments, the agency announced Monday.

The moratorium is now extended through June 30. It was due to expire on Wednesday.

 "The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health. Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
9:29 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Moderna has shipped 100 million doses of vaccine to the US government

From CNN's John Bonifield

A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared in Severn, Maryland, on March 23.
A dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared in Severn, Maryland, on March 23. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna has shipped the 100 millionth dose of its vaccine to the US government, the company announced Monday. 

“I would like to thank the millions of people who have put their confidence in Moderna’s science and our COVID-19 vaccine. We are encouraged by the fact that more than 67 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and we are humbled to know that we are helping address this worldwide pandemic with our vaccine,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said in a statement.

“I would also like to thank the Moderna team, our suppliers and our U.S. manufacturing partners including Lonza and Catalent, for their tireless and extraordinary work in completing this important milestone,” she added.

In August, the Trump administration announced an agreement with the company to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine. Since then, the US has ordered an additional 200 million doses from Moderna.

More than 67 million doses of the vaccine have been administered so far, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moderna says it expected to ship 40 to 50 million doses per month to the US to fulfill its contracts. The 200 millionth dose is expected by the end of May and the 300 millionth dose by the end of July.

9:31 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

WHO plans to release report on Covid-19's origins tomorrow 

From CNN’s Chloe Adams and Bear Hutchinson

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 29. 
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 29.  WHO

All hypotheses into the origins of the novel coronavirus are on the table and warrant complete and further study ahead of a long-awaited report that will be released on Tuesday, the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

Tedros said the WHO received the full mission report over the weekend on the origins of the SARS-Cov-2 virus from the team that visited Wuhan earlier this year and this report was sent to member states under embargo. He said the two news agencies reporting details of a leaked mission report are only a draft or near final wording of the report.

He stressed the report is not public yet and there will be a briefing on Tuesday with member states about it.

“After the briefing to the member states, it will be public, it will be on WHO’s website. As you know, the international experts are expected also to hold a press conference after the posting of the report. And we will read the report and discuss, digest its content and next steps with member states,” Tedros said.

However, he cautioned: “All hypotheses are on the table, and warrant complete and further studies from what I have seen so far.”


9:12 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

US airline travel just hit the highest point of the pandemic

From CNN's Gregory Wallace

Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Friday, March 26.
Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Friday, March 26. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration reported a new pandemic-era air travel record. It screened more than 1.57 million people at US airports on Sunday, a new record that ousted the previous record set only a week before.

Air travel figures continue to ride high during this spring break period even as health experts fret over rising coronavirus infection rates in some states.

More than 9.5 million people have flown in the last week. Sunday’s number marked the 17th straight day when more than a million people have flown by air.

The latest number is more than eight times higher than the same day a year ago, when air travel was severely depressed by the pandemic and only 180,000 people flew.

While new figures are giving hope to the battered airline industry, there’s still a long way to get back to the pre-pandemic era.

The TSA screened more than 2.5 million people on the same day in 2019, meaning the latest figure is still only 62% of pre-pandemic air travel.

7:54 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Slovenia to go into another lockdown in April

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

The Slovenian government moved to reinstate coronavirus restrictions in April due to a growing number of infections and hospitalizations.

“We’re in a race against time,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa said in a press conference Sunday, announcing that public life in the country will essentially be suspended between April 1 and 12.

According to Jansa, the country aims to reach target vaccination coverage in June. In the meantime, Jansa said it's necessary to reimpose restrictions to ease pressure on hospitals and curb the spread of a coronavirus variant first identified in the UK.

“Inaction would mean at least a few hundred additional deaths by June and could later lead to a drastic shutdown of public life due to the overburdened capacities of the Slovenian healthcare system,” the minister added, according to a readout on the government website.

Why now? Slovenia eased coronavirus restrictions in February, but the number of daily new infections has risen sharply since then, with around 943 cases reported on average each day in recent weeks. 

Slovenia's Health Ministry reported that the country has so far vaccinated 5.3% of its 2 million population.

The country has reported over 212,000 Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Over 4,000 deaths have been recorded so far, making Slovenia one of the hardest-hit countries in the European Union in correlation to the population's size.

The epidemiological situation in neighboring Balkan and central European countries has also deteriorated sharply, forcing Slovenia to further limit cross-border travel.