April 22 coronavirus news

By Nicholas Pearce, Ivana Kottasová and Sophie Jeong, CNN

Updated 0703 GMT (1503 HKT) April 26, 2021
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5:50 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

California universities plan to require Covid-19 vaccinations this fall

From CNN's Sarah Moon

The California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) school systems are planning to require coronavirus vaccinations for all students and faculty members using campus facilities starting this fall, the universities announced in a news release Thursday.

“This requirement will become effective at the beginning of the fall 2021 term, or upon full FDA approval of the vaccine, whichever occurs later,” CSU said in the release.

Under UC’s new proposed policy on Covid-19 vaccinations, all students, faculty, and academic appointees and staff must be vaccinated to access any campus facilities before the start of the fall term.

“Those who do not receive a vaccination on campus or provide proof of vaccination by another provider may be subject to additional safety measures,” UC stated in the policy.

According to the news release from UC, “students planning to access UC campuses for the fall will need to update their immunization documentation on file to indicate vaccination or an approved exception or medical exemption prior to coming on campus.”

Some context: The California State University is the nation’s largest four-year public university system with over 480,000 students and 23 campuses, according to its website. The University of California is also one of the largest and highly ranked school systems with over 280,000 students across 10 campuses.   

“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than one million students and employees across 33 major university campuses, so this is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a statement.

5:43 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

India will allow researchers to use drones in Covid-19 vaccine delivery study

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel

India has granted permission to its top medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to conduct a feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones, according to a statement from the country’s civil aviation ministry released Thursday. 

The permission exemption is valid for a period of one year or until further orders, the statement said. 

India on Monday announced that those aged 18 or older will be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine starting May 1. Private vaccination providers will also be able to charge and provide vaccines.

The move was described as the “liberalized and accelerated” third phase of the country’s vaccination program, according to a government press statement. 

The first phase was launched on Jan. 16, prioritizing vaccines for health care and frontline workers. 

From March 1, the program was opened up in phases to the general public depending on their age and existing health conditions.

5:09 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Coronavirus variants first seen in California more infectious, but vaccines still control them, study finds

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A pair of coronavirus variants first seen in California seem to replicate better in the noses of infected people, something that could explain their faster spread, researchers reported Thursday.

But tests of blood from people who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines indicates that while the variants are little less susceptible, the vaccines still protect people from them.

The team led by Dr. Charles Chiu at the University of California, San Francisco did in-depth sequencing of more than 2,000 samples from people who tested positive for coronavirus across California. They found the B.1.427/B.1.429 variants – closely related variants first seen in California – increased from no samples in September to half of all samples taken in January.

Examination of nose swabs showed there was twice as much virus in samples taken from people infected with the variants compared to people infected with older strains of the virus – an indication B.1.427/B.1.429 strains replicate better and something that explains why they would be more contagious.

But they are not as transmissible as the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in Britain — one that’s now the most common variant found in the US — the team also reported in the journal Cell.

Tests against blood taken from coronavirus survivors and people who’d been vaccinated showed the B.1.427/B.1.429 variants can partly evade the immune response. Blood from nearly 90% of recovered patients showed a reduced antibody response to the variants, and blood from half the vaccinated people did.

Better genomic sequencing is needed to stay on top of these variants, the team wrote. 

“Although our findings suggest that the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant emerged as early as May 2020, the first cases of B.1.427 and B.1.429 in the US were not identified by sequencing until September 28, 2020, and July 13, 2020, respectively,” they wrote.

“Earlier identification and monitoring of the variant might have guided focused contact tracing efforts by public health to slow its spread, as well as enabled more timely investigation of its potential significance.” 

5:01 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

MLB's Giants will debut fully vaccinated fans seating section at home games

From CNN's Jacob Lev

A general view of Oracle Park with cutout pictures of fans in the seats on September 6, in San Francisco, California.
A general view of Oracle Park with cutout pictures of fans in the seats on September 6, in San Francisco, California. Jason O. Watson/Getty Images/FILE

Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants announced that fans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, will be given the option to sit in a designated "fully vaccinated section" at the teams' home games at Oracle Park.

The team will debut the program tonight as the Giants host the Miami Marlins.

Fans who show proof that at least two weeks have passed since their final vaccine dose will be able to sit in the reserved section with no social distancing required, according to the team. Face coverings will still be required, except for fans who are actively eating and /or drinking. The team also said any person between 2 and 15 years of age who provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of admission will also be allowed.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are also offering the special seating for fully vaccinated individuals.

On April 1, the NBA’s Miami Heat opened a section for fully vaccinated fans that lasted through the team’s home stand that ended on April 8. 

3:52 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Russia says it has detected its own variants of coronavirus 

From CNN's Zahra Ullah

Russia has detected a formation of a Siberian variant of coronavirus as well as what it calls a “northwestern variant,” said Anna Popova, head of Russia's Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, according to Russia state news agency TASS earlier this week.

On Monday, Popova said at least 192 cases of the UK coronavirus strain and more than 20 cases of the South African strain had been detected in Russia as of April 16, according to TASS. 

"We isolated 192 samples of the British strain, 21 [samples] of the South African one and so far, [we] have not discovered any other mutations already described by other colleagues. Yet we do have mutations that we are describing in the Russian Federation, the mutations uncharacteristic so far of any strain described abroad,” Popova said.

“We have observed the formation of a Siberian variant, and the formation of a northwestern variant. And, as soon as the material will be ready for publication we will submit it to you," she added at a meeting of the department of medical sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

TASS reported that in November 2020, Russia reported the formation of a coronavirus variant in Siberia but at the time the sanitary watchdog said it was not exclusive only to Siberia and it was assumed to have been a variant that had already been spread abroad. 

Russia is one of the worst affected countries in the Covid-19 pandemic with at least 4,736,121 cases of coronavirus infections and at least 107,103 deaths.

4:06 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

India bans supply of oxygen for industrial purposes as shortages continue amid Covid-19 surge 

From CNN's Manveena Suri 

Workers sort oxygen cylinders used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a facility in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer on April 22.
Workers sort oxygen cylinders used for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a facility in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer on April 22. Himanshu Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

India banned the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes as oxygen shortages continue in many hospitals in the capital, New Delhi, amid a deadly second wave of Covid-19 in the country.    

In an order issued by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, it also said no restrictions are to be imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states.  

The ministry's order came as a response to reports about states blocking the movement of vehicles carrying medical oxygen.  

The union territory of Delhi, which includes the national capital, does not produce its own oxygen and relies on central government allocations of oxygen from various manufacturers based on their requirement, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a news conference on Thursday.    

Some neighboring states that supply oxygen have been obstructing supply to Delhi, Kejriwal said, appealing to states to “fight this together.”    

Some renowned private hospitals in Delhi, such as Fortis, have taken to social media to urge the prime minister’s office and government officials to boost supplies of oxygen.    

With shortages being reported across the country, local and state leaders have been appealing to the federal government for more oxygen and medicine.  

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to answer those calls on Tuesday, announcing plans for the delivery of 100,000 cylinders of oxygen nationwide, new oxygen production plants, and hospitals dedicated to Covid-19 patients.  

On Thursday, Modi chaired a meeting to review the oxygen supply across the country and ways in which to boost production of oxygen and improve distribution.    

During the meeting, he stressed that state authorities should come down heavily on those hoarding supplies, according to a government news release.   

3:48 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Iran reports more than 24,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim

Iran's ministry of health reported 24,092 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to at least 2,335,905 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country also reported at least 453 new Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total death toll to at least 68,366.

At least 5,038 patients remain hospitalized in intensive care units, the health ministry said.

Iran is the hardest hit country in the Middle East in terms of the pandemic. It is suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus, according to President Hassan Rouhani. 

The health ministry said 301 cities and towns have been categorized as "Red Zones" in Iran. These zones are in semi-lockdown and nonessential businesses are closed.

3:22 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Rhode Island will eliminate outdoor mask requirement starting May 7

From CNN's Ganesh Setty

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee announced a slew of reopening measures in the state for the month of May. 

Starting on May 7, masks will only be required indoors, or when it is not possible to maintain at least 3 feet of space outdoors. All businesses, including restaurants and gyms, can operate at 80% capacity provided that 3 feet of space can still be maintained, the governor said during a news conference Thursday. 

Bars will still be limited to seated-only service and there must be plexiglass in between patrons.

Social gatherings, meanwhile, will be capped to 25 individuals indoors and 75 outdoors. Indoor assembly venues will be limited to 80% and up to 500 individuals, while outdoor venues will have no capacity cap, McKee said. 

On May 28, all of Rhode Island’s businesses may operate at full pre-Covid capacity, though masks and three feet spacing will still be required indoors.

Social gatherings will also have no limit either indoors or outdoors, the governor said, adding that indoor assembly venues should still maintain 3 feet distance between individuals. 

Bars can resume indoor standing service without the requirement of plexiglass barriers.

Any events with 2,500 or more individuals must still be signed off by the state’s department of business regulation and municipal authorities. 

The governor said that the reopening steps were announced a week ahead of schedule thanks to the state’s progress on vaccinations. 

“Vaccinations keep you safe. If you are not vaccinated, you run a risk,” the governor cautioned. 

However McKee later said, while answering a reporter question, that it is still not time to lift Rhode Island’s state of emergency since it has not yet reached the goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the eligible adult population. 

“The reason we have a state of emergency is because we still believe there is one. And when we get to the point when we don’t feel as though we have one, we’ll remove that state of emergency,” he said. “And I think that, you know, there’s many factors, but the main thing is the safety issue.”

According to state data, more than half a million Rhode Islanders have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while more than 340,000 residents are fully vaccinated. Among Rhode Island’s seniors ages 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and more than 80 years old, 80%, 91%, and 77% are at least partially vaccinated respectively, according to the state vaccination data

Note: These numbers were released by the state's public health agency, and may not line up exactly in real time with CNN’s database drawn from Johns Hopkins University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

2:43 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Daily pace of US Covid-19 vaccinations drops below 3 million shots per day, CDC data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

People receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UMass Memorial Health Care COVID-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22.
People receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UMass Memorial Health Care COVID-19 Vaccination Center in the Mercantile Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 22. Joseph Prezioso/AFPGetty Images

The seven-day average of new Covid-19 doses reported administered has dropped below 3 million shots per day for the first time in more than two weeks, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The average pace of new doses reported administered has been greater than 3 million shots per day for most of April, reaching a peak of nearly 3.4 million shots per day on April 13.

Overall, 218,947,643 total doses have been reported administered – about 78% of the 282,183,915 total doses delivered.

More than 200 million of those doses have been reported administered since President Biden took office, reaching a threshold the administration had set for Biden’s 100th day in office about a week early.

About 41% of the US population – nearly 136 million people – have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and about 27% of the population – more than 89 million people – are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

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