March 30 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Angela Dewan, Christopher Johnson, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0700 GMT (1500 HKT) March 31, 2021
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4:00 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

At least 550,000 people in US have now died from coronavirus

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Dr. Chris Farnitano, second from left, and others light candles during an event remembering the 734 Contra Costa County residents who died from Covid-19. The event was held at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California on March 22.
Dr. Chris Farnitano, second from left, and others light candles during an event remembering the 734 Contra Costa County residents who died from Covid-19. The event was held at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California on March 22. Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times/Getty Images

At least 550,000 people in the United States have died after contracting Covid-19 as of early Tuesday morning on the East Coast, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

More than 30.3 million coronavirus cases have been identified in the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

4:12 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Syria's president and his wife have recovered from Covid-19

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Baghdad 

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, are seen in a hotel in Damascus on September 5, 2010.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, are seen in a hotel in Damascus on September 5, 2010. Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, have recovered from Covid-19 and are no longer symptomatic, the president's office said in a statement on Tuesday.

Assad's office said in a statement on March 8 that the president and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. Both were in "stable condition" at the time and planned to self-isolate for two or three weeks.

"The symptoms of Covid-19 infection have disappeared," the statement said. PCR tests for both also returned negative results.

War-torn Syria has recorded nearly 46,000 positive Covid-19 cases and more than 2,000 deaths based on cumulative numbers of multiple local medical authorities. It's been difficult to put together a full picture of the outbreak in the country due to the ongoing conflict. 

Damascus received its first shipment of vaccines on March 1 from an unnamed "friendly" country, according to Syria's state news agency. The type and quantities of the vaccines were not mentioned in the statement.

Other territories in Syria, including rebel-held and Kurdish-held areas, have not yet received vaccines.

3:42 a.m. ET, March 30, 2021

Protection from first dose of Pfizer or Moderna may not be durable or strong enough, Fauci says

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

While new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests just one dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine may have an 80% effectiveness rate in real-life, it is unknown whether that protection is long-lasting or strong enough to substitute for the two-dose schedule, National of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC Monday.

“We don’t know how long that 80% is durable. It may drop off a cliff in two weeks or three weeks,” Fauci said.

Beyond durability, Fauci said there are other factors to consider when looking at dosing. “Even though it’s 80% protective, the level of antibody that it induces is far lower than after the second dose,” he said.

The study found a 90% protection rate for people who had received two doses of the vaccine.