April 22 coronavirus news

By Nicholas Pearce, Ivana Kottasová and Sophie Jeong, CNN

Updated 0703 GMT (1503 HKT) April 26, 2021
31 Posts
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7:40 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

World Health Organization vaccine advisers update guidance on AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A World Health Organization vaccine advisory group updated guidance on use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine Thursday to include the risk of rare but severe blood clots that have been reported in people who received the vaccine.

WHO said it still believes that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization noted in its guidance that the rare blood-clotting event known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) has been reported around four to 20 days following vaccination with the vaccine.

The group noted that there has been some geographic variation in reports of the blood clots.

“An estimation of the risk outside Europe needs further data collection and analysis,” the guidance states.

More details: It’s unclear whether pregnancy is linked to a higher risk of TTS, and recommendations may be updated while more data is being collected, the advisory group notes. WHO recommends the use of the vaccine in pregnant women only if the benefits to each woman outweigh the potential risks.

The guidance also included more robust data on the AstraZeneca vaccine in older adults. The advisory group cited a phase 3 trial of the vaccine in the US, which showed an efficacy of 85% in people ages 65 and older.

6:58 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Washington state governor says fighting fourth wave of Covid-19 hampered by vaccine hesitancy

From CNN’s Andy Rose

As the state deals with a fourth rise in cases of Covid-19, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is encouraging people to get over any hesitancy they may have about getting vaccinated.

“Being on the fence is too dangerous a position right now,” he said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The fourth wave of coronavirus in Washington is not currently as high as some previous surges have been. But Inslee warned, “We are starting, unfortunately, at a higher level than the other waves have started from. That’s bad.” 

Inslee encouraged people to talk directly to their own doctors about any vaccine risks that concern them rather than taking information only from neighbors and social media.

“I never dreamed we’d get to a point where we have the key to solving this, and we’d be slow to recovery because people are scared of taking something that’s clearly shown… to be safe,” said Dr. Dan Getz, Providence Sacred Heart's chief medical officer.
6:51 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Canada will ban direct passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa

Canada announced Thursday that it will ban all direct passenger flights from India and Pakistan for a period of 30 days as the infection rate of Covid-19 in those two countries continues to spike. 

Travelers would be able to enter Canada from other countries, including the United States, but will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 from the last country in which they have traveled. No so-called "air-side transfers" or transit will be allowed. 

Canada has had a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place for all travelers entering Canada for more than a year, with the exception of essential workers like truck drivers, flight crews and health care workers. 

The government says about 1.8% of all travelers have tested positive for Covid-19 once arrived in Canada but officials say India represents a high proportion of those positive cases. 

6:25 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Go There: Dr. Sanjay Gupta answers your questions about the US vaccine rollout

President Biden announced that the country has put 200 million shots in American arms during his administration.

More than 25% of the country has been fully vaccinated and 40% has gotten one shot. The next 200 million shots could be a lot harder.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta answered your questions on vaccine hesitancy.

Watch:

6:15 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Covid-19 deaths and cases in nursing homes hit all-time low, analysis finds

From CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas

Covid-19 deaths and cases in long-term care facilities are at an all-time low for the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation Thursday. 

The report cites an 89% decline in Covid-19 deaths and 92% decline in cases in long-term care facilities since vaccinations began in December. The researchers note that the steady decline in weekly Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes is likely due to the rate of vaccination in long-term care facilities.

KFF researchers looked at state-reported data from 41 states and Washington, DC, between December and April and found 21 states reported their lowest Covid-19 death rate among long-term care facilities in April. They noted that California, Colorado, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Montana reported zero long-term care facility coronavirus deaths per 100,000 state residents in April.

The lowest death rate observed across all states and Washington, DC, was 0.2 deaths per 100,000 state residents in April 2021. That’s compared to a peak of 2.8 per 100,000 in April 2020. When vaccines were being rolled out in January, the rate was 1.9 per 100,000.

The researchers noted that eight states reported increases in long-term care facility Covid-19 cases from March to April, ranging from a 6% rise in New Hampshire to a spike of over 150% in Connecticut and Michigan. The team warned that the rise is “reflecting a potentially troubling trend of increasing community spread.”

5:59 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Over half of all Connecticut residents 16 and older are fully immunized against Covid-19

From CNN’s Alec Snyder

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that 51% of Connecticut residents over the age of 16 are fully immunized against Covid-19.

A total of 2,828,825 vaccine doses have been administered statewide so far, Lamont said.

The governor also said that 60% of all residents aged 16 and older have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe added that 96% of all people scheduling first doses have returned for their second doses of the vaccine. 

To note: These numbers were released by the Connecticut Department of Public Health 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.

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.”