April 5 coronavirus news

By Ivana Kottasová, Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 3:52 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021
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9:00 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Fauci doubts US government will be behind vaccine passports

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on March 18.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on March 18. Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on an episode of the Politico Dispatch podcast Monday that he doesn’t think the US government will be the main mover behind vaccine passports, but that individual entities could do something with the idea. 

 “I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said. “They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.”  

When asked by Politico’s Jeremy Siegel if not the government, then who the responsibility would fall on, Fauci said that he believes there could be individual entities that do it. 

“There may be theaters that say you don’t get in unless you have proof of vaccination, there may be colleges or other educational institutions that do that,” he said. “I’m not saying they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated, but it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government.” 
8:54 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

More than 6 million screened at US airports since Thursday in spring break travel surge

From CNN's Pete Muntean

A traveler walks through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on March 26.
A traveler walks through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on March 26. Angus Mordant/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Holiday weekend travelers crowded US airports and packed planes amid a travel surge that pushed Delta Airlines to fill middle seats, despite a pledge not to do so until the end of the month.

The Transportation Security Administration says it screened 1.54 million people at airports across the country on Sunday, just shy of a pandemic record set Friday when 1.58 million people flew. More than 6 million people have flown since Thursday.

Sunday’s number is more than ten times greater than bottomed-out figures of a year ago, but still well below 2019 levels.

TSA figures have been higher than 1.5 million for three of the last seven days and higher than one million for 25 days in a row.

While travel is coming back with a vengeance, the CDC is still advising against it. On Friday, the CDC said those who are fully vaccinated can travel at low risk to themselves but said non-essential travel should still be avoided. 

Delta Air Lines said it had to fill some middle seats on weekend flights to keep up with demand, even though its cap on seating capacity does not end until May 1.

7:14 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

EU official blames slow vaccine rollout on AstraZeneca supply issues

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

European Commissioner Thierry Breton speaks with journalists on March 18, in Riga, Latvia.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton speaks with journalists on March 18, in Riga, Latvia. Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union would have vaccinated as much of its population as the United Kingdom has if AstraZeneca had fulfilled its contract to the EU, the head of the EU executive’s vaccine task force said Sunday.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton’s comments threaten to raise the temperature in a months-long dispute between the bloc and the drug maker.

Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper, Breton said:

If we had received the 100% of AstraZeneca's vaccines that were contracted to us, the European Union would be at the same level today as Great Britain in terms of vaccines. So I can say that the pocket of turbulence we have experienced is solely due to AstraZeneca's failure to deliver.

The World Health Organization called the rollout of vaccines in Europe “unacceptably slow” on Wednesday. The WHO European Region (a group of 53 countries including the UK) has vaccinated only 10% of its population with one shot in a two-dose regimen, WHO said in a statement.

The UK has administered about 54 doses of vaccine per 100 people according to data tracked by CNN. No country in the European Union has come anywhere close to that level.

“In the first quarter, (AstraZeneca) delivered only a quarter of the doses we ordered, while the British received all of them, even though our contract was signed before them, in August 2020,” Breton told the French newspaper.

6:54 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A pharmacy technician prepares a Covid-19 vaccine dose on April 2, in Louisville, Kentucky.
A pharmacy technician prepares a Covid-19 vaccine dose on April 2, in Louisville, Kentucky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Doctors are worried that coronavirus may end up being like influenza, which requires a new vaccine every year both because the circulating strains mutate fast and because immunity from the vaccine wears off quickly.

Although initial evidence suggests immunity from vaccination against coronavirus provides long-lasting protection, vaccine makers have begun making and testing versions of their vaccines that protect against worrying variants of the virus.

That includes the B.1.351 version first seen in South Africa, which carries a mutation that, in lab experiments, appears to allow it to evade the human immune response a little.

Read the full story here.

6:25 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

What is a Covid-19 passport and how would it work?

From CNN's Eoin McSweeney

The UK government says it plans to trial Covid-19 passports at snooker tournaments, comedy clubs and soccer matches over the coming weeks.

As the country reopens, ministers hope the "covid-status certification" system will allow those who are vaccinated, have had a recent negative test or a positive test within six months to return to theaters, football matches, cinemas and other events.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce more details about the scheme on Monday, but critics are already worried the passports will harm fundamental freedoms and risk discrimination.

Similar debates have been going on across the world as countries try to figure out how to reopen safely.

Several countries are considering some form of Covid-19 status verification as a viable way to make it quick and easy for individuals to attend events or board flights. Others have voiced their disagreement: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday banning the use of Covid-19 passports in the state.

5:47 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Experts warn of 'a few more rough weeks ahead'

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Experts say Covid-19 vaccinations in the US are going extremely well -- but not enough people are yet protected and the country may be at the start of another surge.

Only about 18.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows, and Covid-19 cases in the country have recently seen concerning increases.

"I do think we still have a few more rough weeks ahead," Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist, told CNN on Sunday. "What we know from the past year of the pandemic is that we tend to trend about three to four weeks behind Europe in terms of our pandemic patterns."

The highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant has fueled an alarming surge in hospitalizations in parts of Europe. And experts worry the US could be next if Americans don't double down on safety measures until more people are vaccinated.

What's worse, experts say, is that the variant is changing the pandemic's playbook and could spell trouble for younger groups that haven't yet been vaccinated.

"We have to think about the B.1.1.7 variant as almost a brand new virus," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "It's acting differently from anything we've seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously."

Read the full story here.

5:21 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

Meet the Detroit pastor urging his congregation to get vaccinated

From CNN's Sarah Jorgensen in Detroit

When Pastor Kenneth J. Flowers took to the pulpit on Easter Sunday, tapping a tambourine along with a choir singing "he got up," the morning represented resurrection in more ways than one. 

"This time last year, we couldn't come to the sanctuary," he preached to his congregation at Detroit's Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. "This time last year, we were dealing with coronavirus in the early stages. This time last year, I had to have Easter all by myself in my basement."

Flowers himself had Covid-19. His wife, Terri Flowers, was in the hospital with the virus at the time, as well. But this Resurrection Sunday, about a year later, was different -- in part due to Flowers telling his congregants to get vaccinated against the virus. 

"If God can use doctors for cardiology, if God can use doctors for oncology and cancer, then surely God can use doctors for Covid-19," Flowers told CNN. "It doesn't mean you don't have faith. You must have your faith but you must also use the doctors so get the vaccination."

Some political leaders -- including President Joe Biden, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan -- have called on faith leaders, especially in communities of color like Flowers', to urge their congregations to get vaccinated.

4:45 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

England bets on testing as a way out of lockdowns

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

Volunteers deliver Covid-19 test kits to the doors of residents near Muswell Hill on March 22 in London, England.
Volunteers deliver Covid-19 test kits to the doors of residents near Muswell Hill on March 22 in London, England. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Everyone in England will be offered free coronavirus tests twice a week starting Friday, the UK government announced in a statement on Monday.

The new testing regime is part of the government's plan to reopen the economy in a way that would not lead to a spike in cases.

Rapid testing is currently only available to those most at risk and for people who need to leave home for work -- including frontline health care workers, care home staff and residents, schoolchildren and their families.

Starting Friday, everyone, including people not showing any symptoms, will be able to access a free test.

The tests will be available through a home delivery service, at test centers, workplaces and schools, the statement added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine program and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.

The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the statement that testing is crucial because "around one-in-three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms."

"As we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks,” he added. 

Johnson is set to outline plans for further lockdown easing later today. These are expected to include some form of "Covid-certification" for mass events and a new "traffic-light" system for international travel which is currently scheduled to resume from May 17. 

As part of that plan, those arriving from "green" countries will not have to isolate, while those from "red" or "amber" nations will be required to follow mandatory quarantine measures. 

3:51 a.m. ET, April 5, 2021

US continues to administer more than 3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses a day, according to CDC data

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Pharmacy technicians fill syringes of Covid-19 vaccine at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center on April 2, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Pharmacy technicians fill syringes of Covid-19 vaccine at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center on April 2, in Louisville, Kentucky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

About 165 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC reported 165,053,746 total doses have been used so far -- about 79% of the 207,891,295 doses delivered.

That’s about 3.4 million more doses than in the previous 24 hours, for a seven-day average of about 3.1 million doses per day. 

About 32% of the population – 106 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 18.5% of the population – about 61 million people – have been fully vaccinated. 

Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.