April 6 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Rob Picheta, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0531 GMT (1331 HKT) April 7, 2021
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5:45 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

FDA authorizes new Covid-19 self-collected antibody test system

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The US Food and Drug Administration said it has issued emergency use authorization for the Symbiotica Covid-19 Self-Collected Antibody Test System.

The test system lets people know if they have been infected in the past with coronavirus.

It is the first to use home collected dried blood spot samples, which are then sent to a Symbiotica, Inc. laboratory to be analyzed. 

“The authorization of the first prescription use, home collection antibody test will play an important role in helping health care professionals identify individuals who have developed an adaptive immune response from a recent or prior Covid-19 infection,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement Tuesday.

The test should not be used to diagnose or exclude acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, the FDA said.

The Covid-19 Self-Collected Antibody Test System has been authorized for prescription use with a fingerstick dried blood sample, either self-collected by people age 18 and up or collected by an adult for children ages 5 and up. 

The performance of the test has not been established in people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, the EUA says. 

“The clinical significance of a positive or negative antibody result following Covid-19 vaccination has not been established, and the results from this assay should not be interpreted as an indication or degree of protection from infection after vaccination,” it says. 

5:17 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

India administers more than 4.3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in a day

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel and Esha Mitra

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi on Tuesday.
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi on Tuesday. Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto/Getty Images

India administered more than 4.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the last 24 hours — the country's highest one-day total so far, its health ministry said in a statement Tuesday.  

The country has so far administered 83.1 million coronavirus vaccine shots in the country with the first doses contributing to nearly 87% of the total inoculations, the ministry data showed.  

India's record vaccinations come as a second wave of coronavirus is spreading through the country, with more than 90,000 new cases reported daily over the last three days, similar to the case load India experienced in the peak of its first wave in September last year.  

Eleven out of the country's total 28 states and nine union territories constitute for over 80% of the new Covid-19 cases, Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Tuesday.  

Speaking to reporters, the minister announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday will hold a joint virtual meeting with all the chief ministers of Indian states and territories to review and discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country.  

Meanwhile, a night curfew will go into effect starting on Wednesday in 20 cities in the Western Indian state of Gujarat to curb a fresh surge in new Covid-19 cases, the state's Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced at a news conference Tuesday.  

Earlier today, India’s union territory of Delhi, of which the nation’s capital New Delhi is a part of, also announced a night curfew with immediate effect.  

5:15 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Biden makes direct appeal to seniors: "Get vaccinated now"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Biden made a direct appeal to senior citizens across the country, urging them to get vaccinated now before eligibility expands to all adults on April 19. 

“My message today is a simple one. Many states have already opened up to all adults, but beginning April 19th, every adult in every state, every adult in this country, is eligible to get in line to get a Covid vaccination. And today, in advance of that new national full eligibility date, I want to make a direct appeal to our seniors and everyone who cares about them,” Biden said during remarks at the White House on Tuesday.

“It's simple, seniors, it's time for you to get vaccinated now. Get vaccinated now,” he said.

The President urged those younger than 65 to help seniors schedule and get their vaccines as soon as possible. 

“If you know someone over 65 who has not gotten this life-saving vaccine, call them now. Work with them to get their shots this week or next. Pick them up, drive them. It can be your parents, your grandparents, your aunt, uncle, your neighbors,” he said.

Biden added that his administration will send aid to community groups to help drive seniors to vaccination sites. 

 “We know that there are number of seniors and people with disabilities and people in many communities of color who may be isolated and lack access to transportation. That's why we're ramping up transportation to vaccination centers and deploying more mobile units and pop-up clinics in the places close to where people live,” Biden said. 

Watch here:

5:15 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Biden hopes to share excess Covid-19 vaccine doses with other countries before "summer is over"

From CNN's Kevin Lipak

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden offered the first rough administration timeline for sharing excess vaccine doses with countries who have been clamoring for shots, saying Tuesday he is eyeing the end of summer as a time when the US can begin shipping some of its surplus.

"My hope is before the summer is over, I'm talking to you all about how we have even access to more vaccines than we need to take care of every American, and we're helping other poor countries, countries around the world that don't have the money, the time, the expertise," Biden said at the White House.

"Until this vaccine is available to the world and we're beating back the virus in other countries we're not really completely safe," he said.

Until now, it has been unclear when Biden might agree to release some of the extra doses the US has purchased to countries who have been pleading with him to ship them.

The White House has been wary of the political fallout that might come along with shipping doses abroad before all Americans can easily get shots. Public polling has shown wide majorities of Americans say the US should provide shots to all Americans, even if developing nations must wait.

Administration health experts have also warned that keeping a stockpile might be necessary in case boosters are needed and as it remains to be seen which vaccine works best in children.

At the same time, however, allies have been pressuring the Biden administration for access to US-purchased vaccines as availability dwindles on the global market.

Biden himself has been confronted in telephone calls and virtual meetings by his foreign counterparts who have pressed him on why the US is purchasing so much more vaccine than it would appear to need, according to people familiar with the conversations. 

State Department officials have also been fielding near-daily requests from other countries for vaccines, according to diplomats, whose answer has largely been the same: no shipments until the US is taken care of.

5:02 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Dominican Republic receives first batch of COVAX vaccines

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias and Jessica Hasbun

The Dominican Republic received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the international vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX early Tuesday, a statement from the country’s health ministry said.

The vaccines “will be used to complete the immunization cycle of health workers already vaccinated with a first dose of AstraZeneca,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the island received 91,200 out of the 2,169,600 AstraZeneca Covid-19 doses purchased through the COVAX program and manufactured by SK Bioscience of South Korea, the ministry said.

AstraZeneca vaccines acquired via COVAX costed the Dominican Republic $4.27 each, for total of $390,000, according to the island’s health minister Daniel Rivera.

As of Tuesday, at least 1,187,599 people have received a Covid-19 vaccine shot in the country, including 320,893 people being fully vaccinated after receiving their second dose.

Read more about the COVAX initiative here.

5:11 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

CDC says 80% of teachers, school staff and child care workers have had at least one vaccine shot

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A nurse practitioner administers a Covid-19 vaccine at a clinic for school workers in Los Angeles in March.
A nurse practitioner administers a Covid-19 vaccine at a clinic for school workers in Los Angeles in March. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 80% of teachers, school staff and child care workers have been given at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

“Our push to ensure that teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated during March has paid off and paved the way for safer in-person learning,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

“CDC will build on the success of this program and work with our partners to continue expanding our vaccination efforts, as we work to ensure confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.”

Some more context: President Biden first mentioned the 80% figure in remarks on vaccination earlier Tuesday. CDC said it surveyed more than 50,000 teaching staff and child care workers, along with the Administration for Children and Families, the Department of Education and non-federal groups.

“On March 2, President Biden directed all states to make Pre-K-12 teachers, school staff, and childcare workers eligible for vaccination and prioritized vaccinations for them within the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program during the month of March,” CDC said in the statement.

“Following the directive, the number of states where these essential workers were eligible increased by more than 50 percent. Many jurisdictions made significant efforts, including holding school-specific vaccination events, that contributed to the success of this national endeavor, in addition to the prioritization within the pharmacy program,” it added.

“More than 2 million teachers, school staff, and childcare workers were vaccinated through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program during the month of March. Additionally, 5-6 million were vaccinated through their state programs through the end of March.” 

5:06 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

New variants have likely replaced original Covid-19 virus in many parts of Canada, officials say

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference on Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference on Tuesday. CTV Network

Canadian public health officials say the B.1.1.7 variant has now likely replaced the original Covid-19 virus in many parts of the country, adding that new variants are making younger people sicker and sending more to the hospital. 

“This isn’t the news any of us wanted but hospitalizations are surging, ICU beds are filling up, variants are spreading and even people who had convinced themselves they didn’t need to be concerned are getting sick,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference Tuesday.

This is a "very serious" third wave of the pandemic, he added.

Trudeau made a pointed appeal to young people urging them to "stay home," saying younger Canadians are getting sicker in this third wave. 

Canada’s Public Health Agency said intensive care admissions are up 18% in the last week alone, saying that the new variants are placing a ‘heavy strain" on hospital capacity. 

“With increasing rates of infection we are seeing a greater number of younger adults with COVID-19 being treated in hospital,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said.

“Many of them deteriorate quite quickly and have to be admitted to the ICU quite immediately, and then they spend quite a bit length of time staying in the ICU, which means that there’s a capacity impact as well,” she added.

Tam explained that while hospitalizations haven’t increased dramatically, more of those patients admitted are now needing critical care as variants are making them more severely ill. She added that more than 15,000 variant cases had been detected so far, the vast majority of them the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the UK. 

While the B.1.1.7 variant has now likely become the dominant variant in Canada, Tam said her team is also keeping a close eye on a significant outbreak of the P.1. variant, first detected in Brazil and now surging in some western Canadian provinces.

On Monday, British Colombia’s health minister said the number of cases of the P.1. variant in his province close to doubled over the Easter holiday weekend. 

"The most transmissive variants of COVID-19 are ultimately going to take over," the minister said during a Covid briefing Monday. 

British Columbia has moved to close the Whistler ski resort and further restrict gatherings in the province now also coping with an outbreak of the virus among NHL hockey players with the Vancouver Canucks.

The province of Alberta also confirmed that it was dealing with new clusters of cases involving the P.1. variant. 

Ontario, meantime, is debating new and more restrictive measures, including a stay-at-home order, as its ICU capacity is increasingly strained. 

5:04 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Biden praises McConnell for encouraging Republican men to get vaccinated

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden today praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for encouraging reluctant Republican men, in particular, to get vaccinated. 

"Polling data shows Republican men, particularly young men, don't think they should have to take the vaccine," said Biden, speaking at the White House. They think "it's their patriotic right not do it, their freedom to choose."

Biden then praised McConnell for urging Republicans to get the vaccine, despite polling which indicates hesitancy among their ranks.

McConnell "keeps speaking to them which I give him credit for," Biden said. "...He's saying, 'no, no. Take the vaccine. Take the vaccine.'"

McConnell, late last month, encouraged "all Republican men" to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

"I can say as a Republican man, as soon as it was my turn, I took the vaccine," he said. "I would encourage all Republican men to do that."

McConnell added that there is "no good argument not to get the vaccination. I would encourage all men regardless of party affiliation to get the vaccination," at a news conference in Hazard, Kentucky, outside a health care clinic for an event focusing on the state's vaccination efforts.

CNN's Ali Zaslav contributed reporting to this post.

Watch here:

4:43 p.m. ET, April 6, 2021

Biden: We'll invest nearly $10 billion to expand treatment and vaccinations in underserved communities 

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

President Biden addressed the struggles facing underserved communities when it comes to Covid-19 and said that his administration will invest nearly $10 billion to expand testing, treatment and vaccinations.

"Even after we open vaccinations to all adults and put a site within five miles of 90% of the public, we know there are many people who still struggle to get access to a shot. We know that there are number of seniors and people with disabilities and people in many communities of color who may be isolated and lack access to transportation. That's why we're ramping up transportation to vaccination centers and deploying more mobile units and pop-up clinics in the places close to where people live," Biden said.

Biden also explained how his administration is working with faith-based organizations and community groups to host vaccine clinics and assist with helping register people for appointments.

The President said the administration is working to deploy additional vaccines to those underserved communities.

"Two-thirds of the patients at community health centers live at or below the poverty level. Sixty percent are racial and ethnic minorities. To reach them, we're investing nearly $10 billion to expand testing, treatment and vaccinations from the hardest hit, yet most underserved communities," he said.