April 29 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, James Griffiths, Kara Fox and Niamh Kennedy, CNN

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) April 30, 2021
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8:17 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

UK says it doesn't have excess Covid-19 vaccine doses to send to India, but is providing them at cost

By CNN's Amy Cassidy, Sarah Dean, Zahid Mahmood, Florence Davey-Attlee, Richard Greene and Niamh Kennedy

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street in London, on Wednesday, April 28.
Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street in London, on Wednesday, April 28. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The British health minister has said that the UK does not currently have any excess doses to send to India -- currently home to the world's worst coronavirus outbreak -- despite the country's ongoing vaccination rollout that has successfully vaccinated its priority groups and is now targeting younger ages.

In spite of mounting calls for rich nations to equitably distribute their surplus vaccines, Hancock said that they are providing India with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at cost and are also working closely with the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The SII “are making and producing more doses of vaccine than any other single organization. And obviously that means that they can provide vaccine to people in India at cost,” Hancock said.

“We're leaning in, both on what we can provide and the material goods we can provide now like ventilators that we thankfully don't need any more here,” he said.

“India can produce its own vaccine, based on British technology, that is… the biggest contribution that we can make which effectively comes from British science,” Hancock added.

India is in throes of a deadly second wave of the coronavirus which has seen cases surge above 300,000 for eight consecutive days, and a death toll that has surpassed 200,000 -- after the country reported 3,293 deaths on Wednesday.

Hancock's comments on vaccine exports come as a recent Ipsos MORI survey found that many people in the UK are keen to send vaccines to India.

The survey, which polled 1,016 adults aged 16-75 on Tuesday, found:

  • Around two-thirds (63%) surveyed said they support the UK giving some of its vaccines to India when everyone in the UK has been vaccinated
  • 43% of respondents supported sending vaccines to India “as soon as possible” even if it meant relaxing UK lockdown restrictions at a slower pace. 
  • 36% of respondents said they were in favor of sending vaccines “as soon as possible” even if it delayed the UK’s vaccine rollout -- or resulted in a longer wait time for vaccines for their friends and family. 

Over 33.9 million people in the UK have already received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with over 13.5 million now fully vaccinated, according to the latest government data.

On Wednesday, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced that said it will be sending three “oxygen factories” to India, saying in a statement that the three oxygen generation units – each the size of a shipping container - would be sent from surplus stock from Northern Ireland and would produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute each, which is enough for 50 people to use at a time.

The UK had already committed to providing India with 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators sent from surplus stock, the first batch of which arrived in India on Tuesday, the FCO statement said.

“International collaboration is more essential than ever, and this additional UK support package will help meet India’s current needs, particularly for more oxygen,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

The FCO statement comes as the aid sector has heavily criticized the UK's plan to cut 85% of the aid it has pledged to the United Nations’ family planning program.

A top UN official on Wednesday called the move "devastating for women and girls and their families across the world."

"When funding stops, women and girls suffer, especially the poor, those living in remote, underserved communities and those living through humanitarian crises," Natalia Kanem – head of the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said Wednesday in a statement.

This means that the UK's expected contribution of £154 million (approximately US $211 million) will be reduced to around £23 million (US$32 million).

Speaking about the cuts, Raab said it was part of the Foreign Office’s efforts to ensure “maximum strategic coherence, impact and value for taxpayers’ money.”

Last year, the UK also garnered criticism from the humanitarian sector when it reduced its aid spending from 0.7% of the national income to 0.5%. 

8:29 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Turkey prepares for a national lockdown, beginning Thursday evening

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Ayvalik

Vegetable seller Hakan Keskin, 40, is pictured at the farmers market in Ayvalik, Turkey. “This is our last chance before 3 hard weeks ahead. It’s going to be difficult our vegetables are going to get old and we won’t be making any money. It’s going to be hard days ahead for us.”
Vegetable seller Hakan Keskin, 40, is pictured at the farmers market in Ayvalik, Turkey. “This is our last chance before 3 hard weeks ahead. It’s going to be difficult our vegetables are going to get old and we won’t be making any money. It’s going to be hard days ahead for us.” Gul Tuysuz/CNN

Turkey is bracing itself for its first national coronavirus lockdown as infection rates continue to climb in the country, now the highest in Europe.

The lockdown will begin on Thursday at 7 p.m. local time and will last through the remainder of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and over the Eid al Fitr holiday. It is scheduled to end at 5 a.m. local time on May 17, according to a statement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

On Thursday, streets across the country's main cities were packed with people preparing for the restrictions, with traffic accidents and queues of traffic reported across the country's main Anatolian Highway.

In the seaside town of Ayvalik on Thursday, the streets were thronged with shoppers stocking up on essentials before the three-week lockdown kicks into effect.

Hakan Keskin, a vegetable seller at the farmers' market in Ayavilik told CNN that "there are more people at the market today and they are buying more of everything." He added Thursday was the "last chance" for vendors such as himself to sell before the "3 hard weeks ahead."

"It's going to be difficult, our vegetables are going to get old and we won't be making any money," he said.

It's going to be hard days ahead for us."

Leyla Ilmen, who was shopping at the farmers' market, told CNN that there were "more people than usual" and that "everything is more expensive."

Turkey initially responded to a surge in Covid-19 infections back in early April -- when the country recorded its highest daily cases and deaths with more than 60,000 daily new cases -- by tightening some Covid-19 restrictions. But on Monday, the government took that step further by announcing the national lockdown.

On Wednesday, Turkey recorded 40.444 new Covid-19 cases and 341 deaths, according to the Turkish Health Ministry Covid-19 online dashboard. 

The lockdown comes as the country faces expected delays in its vaccine rollout, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

To counter any delays in the campaign over the next two months, Koca said that the government had consequently decided to space out the two doses for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

The doses will be now be administered 6 to 8 weeks apart instead of the current interval of 28 days, the health minister said.  

Koca added that there is also concern around the import of one of the variants first identified in India, known as B1.617.

"We identified 5 cases of the Indian variant in Istanbul. Those cases have been isolated and are under observation" Koca said.

Meanwhile, the highly transmissive UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, continues to be the most prevalent in Turkey, he said.

7:45 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Washington Post columnist speaks to CNN about losing a parent in India to Covid-19

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Washington Post columnist and Mojo Story editor Barkha Dutt who recently lost her father to Covid-19, recounted to CNN's Kim Brunhuber how a faulty oxygen cylinder resulted in her father’s unfortunate death. 

Despite being “a journalist who knows doctors” and one who can “pay for the best private medical treatment,” Dutt said she was unable to overcome the obstacles posed by India’s collapsing healthcare system. 

In spite of her own personal loss, Dutt said that she felt she had a “duty” to shed light on the plight of “the orphans of the Indian state.”

In a moving interview, Dutt asks who will be held accountable for the “thousands that are dying," many of whom remain uncounted.

Watch the interview here:

6:47 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Germany puts anti-lockdown group 'Querdenker' under surveillance for possible extremist ties

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Germany’s intelligence service said on Wednesday it would put some members of the country’s anti-lockdown movement under surveillance as concerns grow that their movement is attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the state.

In a statement, Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said they are focusing on members of the ''Querdenker'' movement which promotes coronavirus scepticism, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the Querdenker movement has already shown a willingness to use violence and warned that extremists were “trying to take control of the movement.”

“Right wing extremists are trying to take control [of these events] - and what we cannot tolerate at all is violence,” the interior minister said at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

The movement - whose name means “thinking outside the box” -- have been protesting anti-lockdown measures since the start of the pandemic and have ties to the far right. 

During anti-lockdown protests, members frequently clashed with police and attacked members of the media.  

The move comes as Germany reported an increase of 24,736 new coronavirus cases within the last 24 hours on Thursday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national agency for disease and control prevention.

The death toll in Germany has risen by 264, according to RKI data, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths to 82,544.

3:37 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

More than 13 million people in India applied for Covid-19 vaccines after minimum age lowered to 18

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

Syringes filled with COVISHIELD vaccine for COVID-19 lie on ice box at a primary health center in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, on April 28.
Syringes filled with COVISHIELD vaccine for COVID-19 lie on ice box at a primary health center in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, on April 28. Dar Yasin/AP

About 13.3 million people applied for Covid-19 vaccinations in India on Thursday, the first day the vaccine was made available to everyone between the ages 18 and 44, according to the government's dedicated vaccination website, CoWIN.

India is administering two vaccines domestically: the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, also known as Covishield, and its homegrown Covaxin, developed jointly by Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

CoWIN opened for registrations on Wednesday. As of Thursday at 12 p.m. local time, a further 4.15 million have registered to receive vaccinations. 

India kickstarted its vaccination program in January for health care workers and priority groups, hoping to fully inoculate 300 million people by August. The start was sluggish due to logistical issues and vaccine hesitancy among the population – especially toward Covaxin, which was approved for emergency use before the efficacy data of its third phase trial were released.

As of Wednesday evening local time, 150,020,648 vaccine doses had been administered in India

2:48 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Why India's crisis is a global problem

Analysis by CNN's Aditi Sangal in New Delhi

A health worker collects a swab sample for an RT-PCR Covid-19 test at a community center in New Delhi, India, on April 28.
A health worker collects a swab sample for an RT-PCR Covid-19 test at a community center in New Delhi, India, on April 28. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

There is a split scenario unfolding as the world battles the pandemic.

In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, jubilant, newly-vaccinated people hug their loved ones after a long period of separation. In India, distraught families count their dead.

Sick people are being turned away from hospitals that have run out of beds and oxygen, as the number of new cases rises to record levels each day, creating a national crisis with global repercussions.

The more the virus spreads, the more chances it has to mutate and create variants that could eventually resist current vaccines, threatening to undermine other countries' progress in containing the pandemic, experts warn.

"If we don't help in India, I worry about an explosion of cases" around the world, said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

That's why India's Covid outbreak is a global problem that needs a coordinated response.

Read more:

2:08 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Manila to maintain strict Covid-19 restrictions until mid-May

From Yasmin Coles in Manila

Cyclists ride along a bike lane alongside traffic in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines, on April 27.
Cyclists ride along a bike lane alongside traffic in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines, on April 27. Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

Strict travel and public health restrictions will remain in metro Manila and surrounding areas until mid-May, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday.

The latest restriction were imposed in mid-April. They limited travel in and out of the capital and shut many businesses outside of essential goods and services, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.

Duterte apologized for the extension of restrictions and said Covid-19 has moved beyond a public health issue to one of national interest. Though he scolded people for violating health protocols, the outspoken leader said the ultimate blame remains with the government.

Duterte said lines are forming for admission to hospitals and that the government is running our of resources to provide aid to everyone.

 

1:04 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

After adding 1 million Covid-19 cases in 3 days, India tops 18 million cumulative cases

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India recorded 1 million Covid-19 cases over the last three days, pushing the total number of cases in the country to more than 18 million since the pandemic began, according to figures released today by the country’s Health Ministry.

Authorities reported 379,257 new coronavirus cases and 3,645 on Thursday, both new single-day records for India. It was the eight day in a row total cases topped 300,000

To date, India has seen 18,376,524 Covid-19 cases. At least 204,832 people have died as a result of the pandemic.

India launched its vaccination drive on January 16 and will open up vaccinations to everyone above the age of 18 on May 1. As of Wednesday evening local time, 150,020,648 vaccine doses had been administered.

1:32 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

India is one of the world's top 10 buyers of Covid vaccines, but it still needs more

From CNN's Laura Smith-spark

A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine for Covid-19 at the Railway Hospital in Prayagraj, India, on April 28
A health worker inoculates a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine for Covid-19 at the Railway Hospital in Prayagraj, India, on April 28 Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

India has the world's biggest vaccine producing capacity but is suffering a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections -- just as supplies of Covid-19 vaccines for its huge population are running low.

The government has purchased at least 205.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to data from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, placing India in the top 10 vaccine buyers in the world. But those shots would only cover 8% of its 1.4 billion population.

As of Tuesday, India had administered 147.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to the health ministry. Some 2.4 million of those were given on that day alone, the ministry said.

While that sounds like a lot of shots, India ranks low in per capita vaccination, with only 11 doses administered per 100 people compared to 69 in the United States and Britain, according to Our World in Data.

Read more about India's vaccine rollout here: