The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021
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2:51 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

More than 30% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at CIELO, an Indigenous rights organization, on April 10 in Los Angeles.
A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at CIELO, an Indigenous rights organization, on April 10 in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

About 198 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The CDC reported that 198,317,040 total doses have been administered, about 78% of the 255,400,665 doses delivered. 

That’s about 3.5 million more doses reported administered since yesterday, for a seven-day average of about 3.3 million doses per day. 

More than 30% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated, and about 48% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine. Among seniors, about 64% are fully vaccinated and 80% have received at least one dose.

Overall, about 78.5 million people in the US are fully vaccinated and nearly 126 million people have received at least one dose, according to CDC data. 

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

 

2:44 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Third vaccine dose likely needed within 6 to 12 months, Pfizer CEO says 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and Amanda Sealy

Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, is seen at the New York Stock Exchange on January 17, 2019, in New York City.
Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer pharmaceutical company, is seen at the New York Stock Exchange on January 17, 2019, in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

People are likely to need a booster dose of vaccine six to 12 months after their first round, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said.

Real-world data shows the Pfizer vaccine is effective against a worrying variant of coronavirus first seen in South Africa, called B.1.351, Bourla said during a CVS Health Live event posted to Facebook Thursday. “Protection goes down by time but still in six months it’s still extremely, extremely high,” he said.

“If you ask me, I think that there will be a need, based on these data, for revaccinations,” Bourla added. 

Bourla said it remains to be seen how often this would have to happen, but “a likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual re-vaccination. But all this needs to be confirmed.”

“In pandemics, you are as protected as your neighbor,” Bourla said. He said that’s why it’s important that all countries get their citizens vaccinated.

2:40 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Global governments and partners pledge $400 million to COVAX vaccine program

From CNN’s Will Godley and Chris Liakos

Airport employees push a cart carrying a shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccines at the Pristina International Airport on March 28.
Airport employees push a cart carrying a shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccines at the Pristina International Airport on March 28. AFP/Getty Images

A new campaign to raise $2 billion for the global fight against Covid-19 was launched today at an event hosted by the United States and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Gavi have set a deadline of June for this additional round of funding, which would enable them to finance a total of 1.8 billion doses of COVAX Covid-19 vaccines for 92 lower-income countries by the end of the year.

COVAX is a program is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of coronavirus vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

At the event, governments and private sector partners made early pledges worth nearly $400 million and committed to donate millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses to COVAX to benefit the most vulnerable, according to the news release.

It includes commitments by Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Visa Foundation among others. Google also announced a commitment to donate $2.5 million to COVAX and $15 million in Ad credits to Gavi. New Zealand said it would donate 1.6 million vaccine doses to COVAX, with a focus on the Pacific region.

Speaking at the event, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley warned that the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines is “ incredibly tight right now.” He said it is unlikely COVAX will be able to secure “more supply in 2021 beyond the doses that we have reserved,” calling on countries with excess supply to share spare vaccine doses with COVAX.

At the same event, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot admitted the company has had bumps in the road. “It’s been not only an R&D challenge but also a manufacturing challenge,” he said adding that “manufacturing is ramping up very quickly now.”

1:41 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Fauci: "Hopefully, we'll get a decision quite soon" on J&J Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Amr Alfiky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday he hopes there will be a quick decision about when, and if, the country should proceed with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a decision quite soon as to whether or not we can get back on track with this very effective vaccine,” Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Congressional hearing.

Fauci said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended the pause in the administration of the vaccine after what he called a “really quite devastating complication” in a “relatively small number” of people.

There have been six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot among more than 6.8 million Americans who got the shot. A day later, advisers to the CDC put off making any decision about recommendations for the vaccine, with members of the group saying they need more information.

“Even though it is a very low level, when you look at it, the number as of now, would be like less than one per million,” Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “They did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The pause in the J&J vaccine, he said, gives public health officials a chance to make sure there are no other unreported cases and it will alert doctors to be on the lookout for these cases.

1:25 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Breakthrough infections after vaccination are "very rare," experts say

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The first US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accounting of breakthrough coronavirus infections among fully vaccinated people shows such infections are very rare, Dr. Kawsar Talaat, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday. She said it actually underscores the urgency to vaccinate more people against Covid-19.

The likelihood of these “very rare” infections depends on how much virus is circulating within a community, Talaat said. As more people become fully vaccinated, there will be less virus circulating, and less opportunity for anyone to be exposed.

“That's the whole point of getting to herd immunity,” she said. “Because once we get to a point where enough people in the community are vaccinated, then if somebody develops Covid in that community, the people around them are protected and it's much harder for that person to spread the virus to somebody else, and therefore the transmission stops.”

About 77 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated. In data released to CNN on Wednesday, the CDC said 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported so far, although there is a delay in reporting. Among the reported cases, 396 were hospitalized, 74 died. The CDC also said 29% were asymptomatic. 

The CDC said it’s monitoring reported cases “for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type or lot number, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage,” and so far, no unexpected patterns have been identified.

Talaat said that, overall, the breakthrough infections tend to be much milder than the cases seen among unvaccinated people.

"It's important to realize how many lives have already been saved by the number of people that we vaccinated so far," she said. "The more people we vaccinate the more lives that we can save."

Hypothetically, "you have a population where there's 20,000 people. Half are vaccinated and half are unvaccinated. In the unvaccinated group, if 1% of those people have Covid – that's 100 people in the unvaccinated group of 10,000 – then you would have maybe 10 in the vaccinated group," Talaat said. "But then if at any given time the percent of people infected is .1% in the population, then those numbers go down to 10 and one."

Some breakthrough infections are expected with these and other vaccines. No vaccine is 100% effective. 

In clinical trials of the vaccines, there were a few breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine, wrote in an email on Thursday. Del Rio is an investigator on clinical trials for Moderna and Novovax Covid-19 vaccines.

"There is currently a lot of transmission in many parts of the country. Vaccines will help decrease that," del Rio said in the email. "Get vaccinated as soon as you can and help control this pandemic."

Del Rio added that in the meantime, the public needs to continue masking and social distancing to also help drive the numbers down.

12:35 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

France Covid-19 death toll surpasses 100,000

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne

France marked a grim milestone Thursday as its Covid-19 death toll exceeded 100,000, according to the French health ministry’s Geodes website.

France has registered 100,077 total deaths, and currently has the eighth highest global death toll, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

12:14 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Fauci: UK study on blood clots, vaccines and Covid-19, has some "procedural gaps"

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

There remains some confusion around new research from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom that compares the risk of a rare type of blood clot among people who have had Covid-19 with people who received the AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Fauci who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comments during a hearing with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Thursday.

"They were trying to find out the difference in the incidence of thromboses, particularly cerebral venous thromboses, following the disease Covid-19 compared to various vaccinations, including influenza as well as the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer as well as Moderna," Fauci said. "They found that – as you might expect – following the disease, you get a very marked increase in the incidence of this adverse situation of cerebral venous thrombosis."

However, Fauci added that when the researchers calculated what the incidence of these thromboses may be following Covid-19 vaccination to compare incidents following different types of vaccines, some concerns in the methodology emerged. 

"It is impossible, the way this study was designed and conducted to make that determination. So, I believe when this paper, which is in a pre-print server, gets submitted to the classical scientific journals and undergoes peer review that that confusion will be straightened out," Fauci said. 

"It will be clear that you cannot make any statement, the way this is designed, about the adverse events following the vaccination with the mRNA comparing to anything else," Fauci said.

"There were many, many, I would say, procedural gaps in here regarding the way the study was done. It was a well-meaning attempt to show that Covid-19 disease is followed by this complication, but they led to some suggestions that I think are not called for in the paper."

1:07 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Norway postpones introduction of J&J Covid-19 vaccine pending investigation

From CNN's Arnaud Siad

Norway is postponing the introduction of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine pending “ongoing investigations,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health announced on Thursday.

“Use of [Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19] Janssen vaccine in Norway is postponed until more information is available from the ongoing investigations,” Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the Institute of Public Health, said on Thursday.

Some background: The US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that they were recommending a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. The agencies cited the cases of six women between the ages of 18 and 48 who had developed a rare and severe condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a brain blood clot, combined with thrombocytopenia, or low platelet counts, after their Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson unilaterally announced that it was pausing deliveries of its single-dose vaccines to the European Union that had started on Monday. A delivery of 200 million doses to the EU has been scheduled for the second quarter of this year

In a news release on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency said it “remains of the view that the benefits of the [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.”

The agency in charge of verifying the safety of vaccines for the EU also said they are still assessing the “very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low platelets” with that vaccine and the “EMA is expediting this evaluation and currently expects to issue a recommendation next week.”

12:03 p.m. ET, April 15, 2021

CDC director vows to keep public informed about J&J pause

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies in Washington, DC, on April 15.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies in Washington, DC, on April 15. Amr Alfiky/Pool/Getty Images

As the pause of administering Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines in the United States continues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration will keep the public informed about new developments, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.

She made the comments to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis during a hearing.

"We take all reports of adverse events following Covid-19 vaccinations seriously. As announced earlier this week, CDC and FDA recommended a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while we review data and assess significance around adverse events reported in six people," Walensky said.

"CDC and FDA are committed to remaining transparent through this process and will provide updates as they are available," Walensky said. "CDC is working in coordination with national, state, tribal and local governmental and non-governmental partners to build trust in the vaccines, the vaccinator and the vaccination system."