April 22 coronavirus news

By Nicholas Pearce, Ivana Kottasová and Sophie Jeong, CNN

Updated 0703 GMT (1503 HKT) April 26, 2021
11 Posts
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8:56 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Germany will impose lockdowns on high-infection areas under new law

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Demonstrators attend a protest rally against the government's measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, April 21.
Demonstrators attend a protest rally against the government's measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, April 21. Markus Schreiber/AP

Germany will impose lockdowns on areas with high coronavirus infection rates under new law approved by the upper house of parliament on Thursday.

The law is designed to end a patchwork approach by the country's 16 federal states, giving German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government more powers to fight a third wave of pandemic.

Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to sign the new legislation into law shortly. 

The law — set to become effective next week or even sooner —enables Germany's government to impose curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. local time, as well as limiting private gatherings, sports and shop openings, in all areas registering more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in one week. 

Schools will close and return to online lessons if the virus incidence exceeds 165 cases per 100,000 residents.

The proposal sparked protests from opposition parties in parliament and in the capital Berlin, where hundreds took to the streets. 

The new law comes into effect as Germany reaches its highest number of new Covid-19 infections since January. 

On Thursday, Germany recorded an increase of 29,518 new coronavirus cases within the last 24 hours, according to data from the country's agency for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The reported death toll in Germany has risen by 295, bringing the death toll to 80,893. 

The country is now reporting a total of 3,217,710 known Covid-19 cases and the seven-day incidence rate stood at 161.1 cases per 100,000 people. 

As of Thursday, nearly 22% of Germans have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine — and nearly 7% received their second coronavirus vaccine shot, the latest data from the RKI shows. German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Thursday said that he expects to offer coronavirus shots to all adults from June.

8:09 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Do you need to wear a mask outside? Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers.

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered viewer questions about wearing masks outdoors, eating indoors and vaccination numbers on CNN's "New Day."

 

Q: Do people need to wear masks outside, particularly those who are vaccinated?

A: The vast majority of Covid-19 transmission is not happening outdoors, according to Gupta. Less than 10% of cases happen outside and it is nearly 19 times more likely for transmission to occur indoors, he said. 

“For the most part, you don't need to wear a mask outdoors,” Gupta said.

But people need to use “common sense,” he said, and should consider if they will be clustered together and the case rate in their area.

“The real question you need to try to answer: what is the likelihood I'm going to breathe in someone else's air? That's basically it. The number of people, type of setting … and what is the overall viral spread in their community,” Gupta said. 

Q: How safe is it to eat inside a restaurant?

A: Ventilation and crowding are the big concerns with indoor dining, according to Gupta. 

“I think most places in the country, certainly full capacity indoor dining, I can't imagine that it would be advised. It's just still too risky. There's still too great a chance that you're going to actually potentially be exposed to the virus,” he said. 

Gupta said he would advise people to be cognizant of limited capacity dining and the rate of transmission in their area before heading indoors to eat. 

Q: If people remain hesitant on getting vaccinated, will the pandemic last longer?

A: Gupta said we may “dip in and out” of herd immunity as more people get vaccinated while others refuse to do so. 

“We may still dip into herd immunity over the summer in part because, you know, the virus will just start to dissipate a little bit with the warmer weather, more people being outside, you may not get as much spread. But we could see a resurgence then in the fall,” he said. 

“The real question we're trying to ask is how many people out there have an immunity to this virus?” Gupta added, which is made up of those who’ve been vaccinated — but also those who’ve been infected with the virus, a number that Gupta said we may never fully know. 

Watch:

8:25 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

EU declines option to buy 100 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

From CNN's Pierre Bairin and Arnaud Siad

Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are seen at a doctor's office in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31.
Doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are seen at a doctor's office in Deisenhofen, Germany, on March 31. Lennart Preiss/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union is declining an option to order an additional 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca, a spokesman said Thursday.

The move follows months of public criticism of the drug maker by European officials.

The European Commission did not exercise the option to buy the doses and the deadline for it has now passed, Commission spokesperson for health Stefan de Keersmaecker said.

The Commission is focusing on getting delivery of the 300 million doses it initially ordered, he said.

"In the first quarter, 30 million doses were delivered, which is less than what was contractually expected. For the second quarter, the contract provided for 180 million doses. The company said it was able to deliver 70 million doses," he said.

European officials have been publicly furious that AstraZeneca has delivered fewer doses than the EU says it ordered, prompting the bloc to impose export restrictions on doses manufactured in the EU. The company has cited delays in production. 

The news comes a day after Norway announced that it will send 16,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Iceland, according to a statement from the Icelandic Directorate of Health.

7:31 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not appear to pose serious risk during pregnancy, new study suggests

From CNN Health’s Jessica Firger

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines don’t appear to pose any serious risks during pregnancy, an early analysis of real-world data from the United States shows.

The analysis only looked at Pfizer and Moderna shots, which are both based on newer mRNA technology, so the findings are not relevant to vaccines such as those made by like AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson. 

The new data, along with existing research showing mRNA vaccines are effective in pregnant and breastfeeding people, suggest that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks.

The analysis, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at the data of more than 35,000 pregnant people who had reported their health status through CDC reporting systems, including a smartphone app, and followed up with a group of 3,958 pregnant participants who had received an mRNA vaccine. 

It found that adverse outcomes, including pregnancy loss and preterm births, were not significantly higher in people who had been given a vaccine.

Read the full story here.

7:07 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

The pandemic forced us to create habits that benefit the Earth and ourselves

From CNN's Megan Marples

As the world marks Earth Day, it's a good time to look at the newly acquired habits are worth retaining when the pandemic ends.

Some of our behaviors have benefited the environment, like buying locally, reducing our commutes and flying less. Other habits have reduced our odds of catching other illnesses. But retaining those habits is easier said than done.

6:28 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Mexico warns that selling fake Covid-19 vaccines jeopardizes public health

From CNNE's Fidel Gutierrez and Karol Suarez in Mexico City

Mexico's Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS) has warned that selling counterfeit Pfizer vaccines poses a "health risk" to the population.

Earlier this week, Pfizer said it had identified counterfeit Covid-19 shots in Mexico and Poland.

Responding to the reports, COFEPRIS said:

"Any alleged vaccine against Covid-19 that is for sale through internet pages, social media, by telephone, pharmacies, hospitals, and points of sale, constitutes fraud and a health risk because it's of doubtful origin."

The commission has warned of fake Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon in February.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is free and universal in Mexico, COFEPRIS said in the statement, adding that it hasn't issued a license to any company for the sale or import of the vaccines.

"Any unauthorized vaccination report is alarming since it's illegal, irregular, and puts the health of those who receive it at risk," it said.

"People can trust that all the vaccines from the National Vaccination Program against Covid-19 are of quality, safe and effective since they were approved by this commission." 

6:08 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Spain will donate some of its vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias and Jennifer Hauser in Atlanta

A medic prepares a vaccine at a vaccination site in Madrid, Spain, on April 16.
A medic prepares a vaccine at a vaccination site in Madrid, Spain, on April 16. Jesus Hellin/Europa Press/Getty Images

Spain will donate between 5% and 10% of its Covid-19 shots to the global vaccine sharing scheme once 50% of its population is inoculated, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Wednesday.

"Spain will set aside 7.5 million doses through the multilateral mechanism, COVAX, for Latin America and the Caribbean and this translates into a donation of 5 to 10% of the total vaccines Spain will receive in 2021," Sanchez said during a press briefing in Andorra, Spain. He said the country will activate the scheme once 50% of the population is vaccinated, which he said would be "very soon."

As of Wednesday, Spain has fully vaccinated 7.6% of its population. About 21% have received at least one dose of a the vaccine, according to health ministry data.

Sanchez also encouraged nations to have conversations over Covid-19 vaccine patents, saying that “rights to intellectual property cannot halt, but rather be [one of the] solutions to guarantee soonest vaccination to the world's population."

Spain has secured over 93 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines though the European Union and has so far received a total of 14,924,175 doses.

5:12 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Black market traders are cashing in on remdesivir shortage in Indian hospitals and pharmacies

From CNN's Aditi Sangal in New Delhi

An employee of the Egyptian pharmaceutical company Eva Pharma holds a pack of the antiviral medication remdesivir at the company's factory in Giza, Egypt, in June 2020.
An employee of the Egyptian pharmaceutical company Eva Pharma holds a pack of the antiviral medication remdesivir at the company's factory in Giza, Egypt, in June 2020. Fadel Dawood/picture alliance/Getty Images

Black market traders in India are charging up to 10 times the recommended retail price for remdesivir, according to police, as hospitals and pharmacies report a shortage of the antiviral drug amid a second wave of coronavirus in the country.

The official price of the drug is set at 899-3,490 rupees (about $12-47), according to a government memorandum on April 17.

However, a Mumbai police official told CNN three people were recently arrested trying to sell the drug for 20,000 rupees per vial ($266). In Vishakhapatnam, another police official said, four hospital employees were arrested as they tried to sell remdesivir vials for 9,000 rupees each ($200).

“It is an alarming situation,” said Harshita Chandra, the assistant police commissioner in east Vishakhapatnam. “I want to raise as much awareness about this issue so it becomes popular and people can be more alert and vigilant.”

Abhijeet Kumar from Raipur, a city in the state of Chhatisgarh, said he was trying to find six doses of the drug online for his Covid-19-positive uncle when he was offered them at more than four times the highest official price.

He said he declined the offer as his family could not afford it. “I have already admitted my uncle in a private hospital and it costs 20,000 rupees per day. I can’t afford more,” he said.

Some background: The benefits of remdesivir in the treatment of Covid-19 are unclear. The Indian government and the US Food and Drug Administration have approved the drug for emergency use within hospitals, though the World Health Organization says evidence does not suggest the drug lessens the risk of dying from Covid-19 or needing mechanical ventilation.

Government action so far: Several ministers across India have acknowledged the issue of black market profiteering of remdesivir. The Delhi chief minister promised the “strictest action” against the malpractice. The soaring demand for the drug has prompted the Indian government to temporarily ban the export of the medication to increase its supply in the domestic market. In addition, the finance ministry has waived import duties on it 

5:41 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

India reports highest worldwide rise in daily Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Family members sit on benches next to a pyre of a Covid-19 victim at Nigambodh Ghat Crematorium in New Delhi, India in the early hours of Thursday, April 22.
Family members sit on benches next to a pyre of a Covid-19 victim at Nigambodh Ghat Crematorium in New Delhi, India in the early hours of Thursday, April 22. Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

India reported 314,835 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily increase in cases worldwide since the pandemic began.

The country also recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 deaths at 2,104 fatalities.

The stark figures come as health care and other essential services across India are close to collapse amid a second coronavirus wave that is tearing through the country with devastating speed.

The Union Territory of Delhi on Wednesday received less than half of required oxygen to treat Covid-19 patients, with 200-250 metric tons of oxygen against a requirement of 700 metric tons, the advocate for the Delhi government told the high court on Wednesday.

A petition by the Bajaj Medical and Research Centre, which runs a chain of private hospitals, said five of its hospitals in Delhi had between two to 18 hours of oxygen supply left.

While the court was hearing the petition, two of the five private hospitals referred to in the petition had received the supply of oxygen, the court noted.

As of Thursday afternoon, Delhi had 26 vacant ICU beds, according to government data.

Several Indian states have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged states to use lockdown as a last resort.

India's second most populous state of Maharashtra has announced new restrictions on Wednesday. People will be allowed to travel only for essential services or for "unavoidable events" like funerals. All private passenger transport will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

The new rules will come into force 8 p.m. local time on Thursday and will remain in place until 7 a.m. on May 1.

India had now recorded a total 15,930,965 cases as of Thursday, according to the India Ministry of Health. The total death toll now stands at 184,657.

Some context: India’s population is nearly four times that of the United States, and its daily cases still falls behind the US when adjusted for population size (in cases per million people). But India’s outbreak is undoubtedly the world’s biggest in absolute numbers at the moment — nearly 28% of all new cases worldwide in the past week came from India, said the World Health Organization on Wednesday.