April 23 coronavirus news

By Sophie Jeong, Aditi Sangal and Kara Fox, Nicholas Pearce and Philip Wang

Updated 0702 GMT (1502 HKT) April 26, 2021
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1:15 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

UK is looking at ways to help India with Covid-19 pandemic, prime minister says

From CNN's Samantha Tapfumaneyi

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on April 21.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London on April 21. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom is looking at what can be done to help India with the Covid-19 pandemic, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Friday. 

“We're now in a position where we do have 30,000 ventilators, we're able for instance to think about what we could do to help the people of India, who are suffering so terribly at the moment,” Johnson said. 

On Friday, India reported the world's highest daily rate of Covid-19 for the second day in a row, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health, as Delhi hospitals call for emergency oxygen supplies amid shortages.

12:59 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

No blood clot cases linked with Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines, CDC expert says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Pharmacist Fedelis Onyimba prepares to administer a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose at First Baptist Church of Highland Park on March 18 in Landover, Maryland.
Pharmacist Fedelis Onyimba prepares to administer a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose at First Baptist Church of Highland Park on March 18 in Landover, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

No blood clots have been associated with coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert said Friday.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting to discuss whether to change guidance for J&J’s Janssen vaccine. The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing its use after six reported cases of women who developed a rare blood clotting syndrome called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine in the United States. But no cases have been firmly linked with other vaccines used in the US. 

“Currently, there is a lack of evidence of an association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and (Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) with thrombocytopenia,” the CDC’s Dr. Tom Shimabukuro told members of the CDC’s vaccine advisory group. J&J’s vaccine is made using a common cold virus called an adenovirus, while Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines are made using raw genetic material called messenger RNA.

Shimabukuro told ACIP that 2.7 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and 2.5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine had been included in CDC’s Vaccine Safety Database as of April 17. He said 10 cases of a rare type of brain blood clot called CVST were reported afterward but five were ruled out because of the medical histories of the patients, and five more were ruled out because patients did not develop a low level of platelets. It’s the combination of blood clots and low platelet counts that is linked with the vaccines.

ACIP is expected to vote on any changes to its guidance for J&J’s vaccine later Friday. If ACIP recommends changes to the vaccine label — such as a warning, or changes to who it recommends should get the vaccine — CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will sign off and then the FDA will have to make any label changes.

12:30 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

CDC director: Swift action needed on paused J&J shot as there's demand for convenient single-dose shot

From CNN's Jen Christensen

A Premise Health healthcare worker loads a syringe with the Covid-19 Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine on March 26 in Buffalo, West Virginia.
A Premise Health healthcare worker loads a syringe with the Covid-19 Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine on March 26 in Buffalo, West Virginia. Stephen Zenner/Getty Images

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the risk-benefit analysis of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine considers who would prefer the single-dose vaccine or wouldn't otherwise have access to one of the two-dose vaccines currently authorized in the United States. 

“I think the FDA and I feel strongly, and the CDC feel strongly, that we need to act swiftly after that analysis,” Walensky said during the White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday. “I do think that there’s plenty of people who are interested in the J&J vaccine, if just for convenience, as well as for a single-dose option.” 

The CDC has been working hard over the last week to determine if there have been any additional cases of blood clots among those people who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, Walensky said. 

The J&J vaccine rollout has been on pause since April 13, after a small number of people experienced blood clots after taking the shot. 

Walensky said the agency’s analysis will be presented during the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting currently underway.

12:25 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh risks, European Medicines Agency officials say

From CNN's Samantha Tapfumaneyi and Lauren Kent

A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a medical center on March 20 in Bridport, England.
A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a medical center on March 20 in Bridport, England. Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

European Medicines Agency officials said at a news conference on Friday that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks, and that they will continue to review "very rare cases" of blood clots.

"Importantly, the data show that the benefits of vaccination increased with age and increasing levels of infection in the community,” said Dr. Peter Arlett, head of Pharmacovigilance and Epidemiology Department at the European Medicines Agency.

"Every day, thousands of people in Europe are dying from Covid-19. The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing infection and therefore hospitalization and death," Arlett added. "Very rare cases of blood clots with low platelets have been reported, and these are listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine."

Arlett also said the European Medicines Agency is stepping back from reporting the numbers on blood clots, as the agency wants to contextualize the numbers and the risk.

Earlier this month, the EMA said a particular combination of unusual blood clots with low blood platelet counts should be listed as a side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but stopped short of recommending its use be limited. The agency previously said the positive benefits of AstraZeneca's vaccine outweigh the risks. 

12:29 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

CDC recommends that pregnant people get the Covid-19 vaccine, director says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention, speaks during a White House Covid-19 briefing on April 23.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention, speaks during a White House Covid-19 briefing on April 23. White House

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention, said Friday that the CDC recommends that pregnant people get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Her comment follows a new study that found no safety concerns among a large group of pregnant people who received the vaccine in their third trimester, and no safety concerns for their babies.

“As such, CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the Covid-19 vaccine,” Walensky said during the White House Covid-19 briefing. “We know that this is a deeply personal decision, and I encourage people to talk to their doctors or primary care providers to determine what is best for them and for their baby.”

The CDC vaccine guidelines online have not been updated. They currently say that pregnant women may receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one is available, and getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but do not say the vaccine is recommended. CNN reached out to the CDC for further clarification. 

On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine published preliminary findings from CDC scientists that determined that the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna do not appear to pose any serious risk during pregnancy. Last month, another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found mRNA Covid-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, and they can pass protective antibodies to newborns. 

Clinical trials of the vaccines did not include pregnant people so there was limited data on the safety of vaccination in pregnant people and babies. Scientists intend to follow up with the pregnant people in the study to assess the long-term safety of the vaccine during pregnancy.

12:18 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Expert to CDC advisers: Rare clotting events set off by both J&J and AstraZeneca vaccine

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

A dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is prepared on April 7 in New York City.
A dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is prepared on April 7 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines appear to be setting off rare blood clotting events in a few people who get them, a top expert told vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization practices is meeting to discuss whether to change guidance for J&J’s Janssen vaccine. The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration recommended pausing its use after six reported cases of women who developed a rare blood clotting syndrome after receiving J&J’s vaccine in the United States.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet authorized for use in the United States, but use of the vaccine resumed in many countries in Europe after UK and European health authorities said the benefits outweighed the risks. Both vaccines use a common cold virus called an adenovirus to deliver genetic material to stimulate an immune response.

“So far, it appears to be a thrombotic response to receiving an adenoviral vector vaccine against SARS COV-2,” Dr. Michael Streiff, a clotting expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told ACIP’s emergency meeting.

“It’s unclear what causes this to develop,” he added.

“The incidence — and this is based on the European experience, and the United Kingdom experience — is anywhere from one case per 100,000 to one in 250,000 of vaccine recipients,” Streiff said.

“Median onset of the symptoms after vaccination is about nine to 10 days,” he said, although in Europe some cases appeared 24 days after vaccination.

Most cases have been among women and people as old as 77 have been affected.

Streiff said he did not think it was possible to screen patients for risk factors for the blood clotting syndrome. “I don’t think we can just focus on oral contraceptive users and obese patients,” he said.

But he said awareness has helped patients get quick treatment. “Recognition that this syndrome exists is helping to improve outcomes,” Streiff said.

ACIP is expected to vote on any changes later Friday. If ACIP recommends changes to the vaccine label – such as a warning, or changes to who it recommends should get the vaccine — CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will sign off and then the FDA will have to make any label changes.

12:14 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

Pennsylvania fully vaccinates more than 3 million people

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Members of the military inoculate people with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in Philadelphia on April 9.
Members of the military inoculate people with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in Philadelphia on April 9. Matt Rourke/AP

Pennsylvania has fully vaccinated more than 3 million of its residents, with first doses having been administered to over 45% of the population, its health department said.

That said, the state's current 14-day average of new cases continues to increase, but is still below what it was at the height of the spring peak in May 2020.

Pennsylvania began receiving Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccine shipments in December. The state also got a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 1, but "shipments to Pennsylvania providers are currently paused out of an abundance of caution," according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

12:01 p.m. ET, April 23, 2021

India's scientific adviser: "We saw signs of a next surge but the scale and the intensity of it was not clear"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A worker places fans by beds in a stadium, which has been converted into a quarantine centre for Covid-19 coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, in Kolkata on April 21.
A worker places fans by beds in a stadium, which has been converted into a quarantine centre for Covid-19 coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, in Kolkata on April 21. Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

As India grapples with a devastating second wave of Covid-19 cases, the government's top scientific adviser says while they saw the signs of a next surge, "the scale and the intensity of it was not clear."

"As the previous wave came down, there was, in all of us, a feeling that this was, you know, something which had been dealt with substantially," said K. VijayRaghavan, the Principal Scientific Adviser for the Indian government. "We saw signs of a next surge but the scale and the intensity of it was not clear."

He added that India loosened restrictions "before we should have."

As soaring demand overwhelms the health care infrastructure, VijayRaghavan, who is also a co-chair of India's Covid-19 vaccine task force, admitted that PPE, ventilators, vaccines and hospital set ups need to be "scaled up enormously."

Families and hospitals are raising the alarm on acute shortage of oxygen supply for days and VijayRaghavan emphasized that the government is making all the effort to address it.

"Oxygen availability has been pushed over the last few days, both in terms of diverting manufacturing, importing, distribution and looking at local availability. This hopefully will start seeing results soon," he said Friday.

However, he admitted that the intensity of the second wave has rendered any amount of ramping up of health care capacity since the first wave "not yet sufficient."

In the face of this massive public health crisis, escalating vaccine production and rollout remains important not just for India but for the world, he told CNN. However, it's not just India's responsibility to manufacture but also other countries' responsibility to supply ingredients, such as the United States.

"India followed the principle that no one is safe until everyone is safe. We are one of the few countries which reached out to other countries early on last year as soon as vaccines made here became available," he said. "When you manufacture vaccines here, you do so with components which are imported from elsewhere. So it's equally important, if India is to serve the world, that countries such as America also don't restrict the imports of components needed vitally to manufacture vaccines."

Once that happens, India can build up its capacity to fulfill its own needs as well as the world's, he said.

India reported 332,730 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the highest number of daily cases globally for the second day in a row. This brings India's total to more than 16 million cases, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. The country has added more than 1 million cases in four days.

Watch:

11:38 a.m. ET, April 23, 2021

White House expects daily Covid-19 vaccination rates to "moderate and fluctuate"

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

Source: White House
Source: White House

White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said during Friday’s coronavirus briefing that the federal government expects daily vaccination rates to "moderate and fluctuate" during the next stage of the US vaccination program.

Speaking about the areas of focus during the next phase of the vaccination program, Zients said the US “will continue to vaccinate millions of Americans each day.” But he added that vaccinating remaining populations of Americans will “take time and focus.”

“As you can see in our vaccination report, our current seven-day average is 2.9 million shots – nearly 3 million shots per day. Going forward, we expect daily vaccination rates will moderate and fluctuate. We’ve gotten vaccinations to the most at-risk and those most eager to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. And we will continue those efforts, but we know reaching other populations will take time and focus,” Zients said.

CNN previously reported that 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.