April 7 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Martin Goillandeau and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 0622 GMT (1422 HKT) April 8, 2021
20 Posts
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8:46 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

US doesn’t need AstraZeneca’s vaccine doses, Fauci tells CNN

From CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen

The United States doesn’t need AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine doses, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Wednesday. 

“We have three excellent vaccines. Even if the FDA deems that this vaccine is a very good vaccine, we don’t need yet again another very good vaccine. We have enough very good vaccines,” said Fauci, President Joe Biden’s senior medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Several European countries have paused their AstraZeneca vaccine distribution amid concerns that the vaccine might be linked to rare types of blood clots, or made rules that only people over a certain of age can receive it. No link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots.

At a congressional hearing on March 22, Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca's biopharmaceuticals business unit, said the company was “expecting” to have an EUA “at the beginning of April.” However, in media interviews he said the company was expecting to apply for an EUA in the first half of April.

Fauci said if AstraZeneca applies to the US Food and Drug Administration, they might receive an EUA, but that the doses weren’t needed in the US.

 “There is no plan to immediately start utilizing the AstraZeneca [vaccine] even if it gets approved through the EUA, which it very well might. It’s not any indictment against the product. We just have a lot of vaccines,” Fauci told CNN. “We already have contracted for enough vaccines, from Moderna and from Pfizer and from J&J, to fulfill all of our needs as well as even having doses for boosters in case we want to boost them a little later on.”

Last month, Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, said the agency had come to a conclusion that the AstraZeneca vaccine "a is a safe and effective vaccine."

Cooke said the group did not find that the vaccine causes clotting, though it could not definitively rule out a link to a rare blood clotting disorder. Cooke added that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweigh the risks, a message already stressed by both the EMA and World Health Organization.

10:22 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

US on track to vaccinate 50% of all adults by this weekend with at least 1 shot, White House adviser says 

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

Half of the adults in the US should have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose by this weekend, White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response Andy Slavitt said Tuesday.

“We're on track that by the weekend, half the adults in the country will have had their first shot,” Slavitt told CNN’s Chris Cuomo last night.

Slavitt did not fully explain his calculation, but indicated he expected the pace of vaccinations will pick up.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 41.7% of the population over 18 has received at least one dose of vaccine.

“It's getting easier,” Slavitt said. “Part of it's because there's more supply. Part of it is because it's in more places. Part of it is because there's more vaccinators,” he added.

But this does not mean the country is finished with the pandemic, the White House adviser note.

"We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven't been vaccinated," Slavitt told CNN. "They're not there yet, and you don't win the war until you bring everybody over with you."

President Biden said Tuesday that every adult in the US should be eligible for a vaccine on April 19, up from the original May 1 deadline.

“We've got about 76% of seniors that have had their first shot,” Slavitt said. “Now what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks, is we really need to make sure that more seniors get their shots, because starting on the 19th, we're going to have some more floodgates again,” he said. “We're going to have more people coming.”

Slavitt said that the US needs to keep pushing on Covid-19 vaccinations, so everyone who wants a shot can get one.

“We think that's going to happen as we get into May – as we get towards the end of May,” he said.

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe contributed reporting to this post. 

8:53 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Hungary to ease restrictions after recording deadliest day of pandemic last week

From CNN's Chloe Adams in Glasgow

Hungary begins to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, just as the country has vaccinated 2.5 million people and despite battling a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Starting on Wednesday morning, the country's shops opening times are being extended from 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. local time, with capacity reduced to one costumer per 10 square meters.

Night-time curfew restrictions are relaxed from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time, with hair and beauty businesses also allowed to reopen. Bars and restaurants must remain closed and hotels cannot yet welcome guests.

“We have reached 2.5 million vaccinated people in Hungary. Therefore the gradual reboot may now begin,” the government tweeted. According to the Hungarian. 2,536,751 people have received the first dose of the vaccine, and of those, 1,005,936 have been given the second jab, according to government data.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the vaccination number "an important milestone.”

“The virus waged a war against us, and the only weapon that promises victory is the vaccine,” Orbán said. “Hungary can be and will be the country where everyone gets a vaccine the fastest.”

Last week, the Prime Minister also signaled that on April 19, kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools will would reopen as well. He told public broadcaster, Kossuth Rádió, the next step will be taken when the vaccinated number reaches 3-3.5 million, adding that he would provide further details this Friday.

Why it matters: Hungary, with a population just under 10 million, has been in lockdown for a month as it struggled to bring down infection rates.

Last week, the country recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far with 302 people dying from the virus in a single day.

This Tuesday, health authorities reported at least 1,890 new cases, bringing the total to 691,743, for 170 additional deaths.

There are currently 12,007 people hospitalized with Covid-19, 1,440 of whom are on ventilators, with 251,077 coronavirus cases currently active in the country.

8:53 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

India's Maharashtra state faces vaccine shortage

From CNN's Esha Mitra in Delhi

A health worker prepares a dose of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India on April 1.
A health worker prepares a dose of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India on April 1. Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

India's Maharashtra state, where the country's highest new daily coronavirus cases are being reported, has asked the central government to increase vaccine supply amid a shortage, the state's minister of health said.

"Many vaccination centers are having to shut down because they haven’t received sufficient vaccines, people are coming to the centers but our healthcare workers have to tell them that they haven’t received the vaccine so they should go home," Maharashtra's Minister of Health Rajesh Tope told reporters Wednesday.

Tope said he has requested the central Indian authorities to supply more doses of the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines. "In both cities and villages, we have created teams… to bring all those above 45 years old to take the vaccine," he added. "We have had a fast mobilization of recipients but haven’t received enough vaccines."

On Tuesday, Maharashtra state recorded 55,469 new cases, nearly half the new cases across the whole country, according to the state health department. Mumbai, the state capital, recorded 10,030 new cases on Tuesday, according to the city administration.

Kishori Pednekar, the mayor of Mumbai, said the shortage comes at a time when there is rising trust in Covid-19 vaccines. "People want to take the vaccine quickly," she told local media. "We are facing shortages of both Covishield and Covaxin, till yesterday we had only 176000 doses of Covaxin left, at this rate it will become difficult to provide even the second dose of the vaccine to those who have already received the first."

Maharashtra has administered the highest number of vaccine doses of any state, with 8,127,248 people receiving the first dose of the vaccine, the Indian Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

Second wave grips the country: India on Wednesday reported over 115,000 new cases of coronavirus, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. The country has seen a rapid surge in Covid-19 cases since March.

Several Indian cities and states have reinstated coronavirus restrictions in the second wave. Maharashtra has imposed weekend lockdowns and curfews, the union territory of Delhi has ordered a night curfew, and in the western state of Gujarat, a night curfew has been implemented in 20 cities.

8:34 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

South Korea suspends AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 60 and nursing teachers 

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Dobong health care center on February 26, in Seoul, South Korea.
A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Dobong health care center on February 26, in Seoul, South Korea. Jung Yeon-Je/Pool/Getty Images

South Korea will temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 60 and nursing teachers, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a press release on Wednesday. 

The KDCA said the decision was made because the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently reviewing the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and instances of rare blood clots reported among some patients. 

Nursing teachers were scheduled to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine starting Thurs, but the plan has been postponed. 

KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said the decision is a “preemptive action” as they consider people’s safety as the top priority. She added that they will have an in-depth discussion with local experts following an investigation by the EMA, before announcing further actions in a prompt manner.

Earlier Wednesday, South Korea granted conditional approval use for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen coronavirus vaccine, the country's Food and Drug Safety Ministry said.

The moves come as a senior health official warned of the increasing possibility the nation was heading into a fourth Covid-19 wave. South Korea reported 668 new cases from Tuesday, the biggest daily jump since January 8.

The EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee is expected to hold a virtual press briefing Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET following its latest review of AstraZeneca and thromboembolic events.

8:17 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

German government calls for a short country-wide lockdown

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Vienna

The German government is calling for a short country-wide lockdown to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. 

“Every call for a short, unified, lockdown is correct,” Ulrike Demmer, the spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, confirmed on Wednesday.

“The variety of the current measures are not contributing to safety or to acceptance,” she added, highlighting the importance of a "common federal approach." 

Demmer went on to say the current situation was unsustainable, with too much pressure on German healthcare. “We need a stable incidence rate below 100,” she concluded.

Last week, Germany's public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, found that the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 -- which was first identified in the UK -- accounted for nearly 90% of new infections in the country.

8:32 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Osaka torch relay to take place in park without spectators after surge of cases in prefecture

The celebration cauldron is lit during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Minamisoma, Japan, on March 25.
The celebration cauldron is lit during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Minamisoma, Japan, on March 25. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee says the Olympic Torch Relay leg slated to take place in Osaka next week will be relocated to the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park without spectators. 

The relay was set for next week on April 13 and 14. Earlier Wednesday, the governor of Japan's Osaka prefecture said he couldn't allow Olympic torchbearers to run on public streets as planned due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

In a press statement released Wednesday evening, Tokyo 2020 said the change of format to the torch relay event “will implement all necessary measures to ensure a safe environment for torchbearers who wish to run there, with no spectators being admitted on either day.” 

The brief statement said other details would be announced as soon as they are decided.

Osaka prefectural government reported a record high of 878 daily new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

7:45 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Czech PM replaces health minister for third time since pandemic started

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova in London

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has on Wednesday fired the country’s Health Minister Jan Blatny -- the third health minister to be sacked since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Blatny had been in the post since late October.

“I believe this is a political decision, which is of course the right of the Prime Minister. I can say that my conscience is clear -- I have made decisions based purely on my expertise, and always based them on data and expert analysis. I think this move can be interpreted as the Prime Minister thinking we are out of the worst situation,” Blatny said during a news conference on Wednesday.  

Blatny has previously clashed with the Czech President Milos Zeman over the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Blatny said the vaccine shouldn’t be used until after it is fully approved by the European Medicines Agency.

“I have always advocated for the use of only fully approved vaccines,” he said during the news conference. Zeman has pushed for the use of the vaccine regardless of its EMA approval status. 

Blatny, a physician and an academic, is being replaced by Petr Arenberger. Arenberger, also a doctor, is currently the head of the University Hospital Vinohrady in Prague. He is a well-regarded dermatology expert. 

The Czech Republic is one of the worst impacted countries in the world. The country of 10 million has reported 27,329 Covid-19 deaths and more than 1.5 million cases. 

7:42 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Russia to supply 150,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Pakistan

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

A health worker holds a dose of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 2.
A health worker holds a dose of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 2. Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that Russia will “soon” be supplying Pakistan with 150,000 doses of the Russian developed Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. 

Lavrov is currently visiting Pakistan on an official tour, his first to the country in 9 years. 

Pakistan’s private sector has already purchased 50,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine which are currently being sold commercially.

Pakistan has recorded more than 700,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 15,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

Russia announced last week agreements with 20 manufacturers in 10 different countries to produce its Sputnik V vaccine.