April 29 coronavirus news

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

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) April 30, 2021
32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:24 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Authorization of coronavirus vaccine for younger teens can skip FDA advisory process, official says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Food and Drug Administration will be able to skip the time-consuming advisory process for deciding authorization of coronavirus vaccines for older children and teens, a government official told CNN Thursday, but it will likely undertake a lengthier review for younger children.

Vaccine maker Pfizer has applied for emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine for teens and children ages 12 to 15. The FDA will have to amend the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the vaccine, but the process should be straightforward, said the official, who was not authorized to speak about the process publicly and requested anonymity.

Extending EUA to younger children is a different matter, the official said.

“In the older group of children if there is nothing exceptional, if everything looks very similar to adults, the feeling is that it is not necessary to take this to an advisory committee meeting,” the official said. “For the younger children, we almost certainly will consider more strongly going to an advisory committee meeting.” 

Pfizer and Moderna both are testing their vaccines in children as young as 6 months and expect to ask the FDA for EUAs covering infants and children later this year.

More context: The FDA is currently reviewing data submitted by Pfizer to support extending the EUA to younger teens. Pfizer said at the end of March that a clinical trial involving 2,260 12-to-15-year-olds showed its efficacy is 100% and it is well tolerated.

The company said the vaccine-elicited strong antibody responses one month after the second dose, exceeding those demonstrated in people ages 16 to 25 in previous trials. The vaccine is currently authorized in the US for emergency use in people ages 16 and older.  

Before issuing the EUAs for the three authorized coronavirus vaccines – made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – the FDA held meetings of its independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to review the data and vote on whether to recommend EUA. That will not happen in extending EUA to 12-15-year-olds, the FDA said.

“While the FDA cannot predict how long its evaluation of the data and information will take, the agency will review the request as expeditiously as possible using its thorough and science-based approach,” the FDA said in an email to CNN on Thursday.

“Based on an initial evaluation of the information submitted, at this time, the agency does not plan to hold a meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on this request to amend the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine, which was discussed and recommended for authorization at a VRBPAC meeting in December 2020. As with all FDA-authorized Covid-19 vaccines, we are committed to transparency with this EUA review process.”

7:18 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

FDA won't release AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for export until it's sure vaccine is safe and effective

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Food and Drug Administration will not release AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for export to other countries until it is sure the doses have been manufactured to US quality standards and will be safe and effective, a government official told CNN Thursday.

The White House said Monday it would ship doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, including India, after a safety review by the FDA. AstraZeneca has yet to apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US, but the company has been making tens of millions of doses in the US in the expectation that it will apply for and receive EUA eventually.

Many other countries have been clamoring for vaccine and international groups have criticized the US for buying up vaccine doses while billions of people around the world go without.

The safety review will be thorough, said a government official with knowledge of the process who was not authorized to speak on the subject and requested anonymity. While an EUA is not needed to export vaccine, the official said, the US would not export any vaccine that did not meet US safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality standards.

7:03 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Covid-19 deaths top 400,000 in Brazil

From Rodrigo Pedroso

A person lights a candle in honor of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Brazilian Congress on April 27 in Brasilia, Brazil.
A person lights a candle in honor of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Brazilian Congress on April 27 in Brasilia, Brazil. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil has surpassed 400,000 deaths from coronavirus, making it the second country worldwide to officially pass that grim milestone following the United States.

The country's health ministry reported more than 3,000 new Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, raising the total number of deaths recorded during the pandemic to at least 401,186.

Brazil’s death toll rapidly increased after Christmas and New Year's holidays – when locals often travel during school and company summer breaks – turning 2021 into the most severe period in the country's outbreak since the novel coronavirus reached the country in March of 2020.

"With sadness all around, Brazil today registers 400,000 victims of Covid-19,” Carlos Lula, president of the National Council of Health Secretaries, said in a statement. “The number reflects the pain of families that lost parents, grandparents, children and siblings in a fast, violent and often lonely way. It also reflects mismanagement and the lack of centralized coordination at the federal level.”

As the Covid-19 death tolls have risen in Brazil, whose far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has resisted lockdowns and overseen an often slow and bumpy vaccine rollout, young people are making up a greater share of deaths as older Brazilians are among the few to have secured a vaccine.

Fiocruz, a Brazilian public health research institute, recently reported that patients between the ages of 20 and 29 had the most pronounced increase in Covid-19 deaths among all adults between early January and mid-April this year.

Data from the first full epidemiological week of January compared to the second week of April showed that deaths among Covid-19 patients in that age group grew 1,081%.

Covid-19 deaths and new cases rose across all adult age groups during the same period as Brazil’s daily death toll climbed from about 1,000 a day at the beginning of the year to averaging more than 2,500 a day over the past week.

In the meantime, Brazil's vaccination campaign is running at a slow pace, with about 6% of its 210 million people fully vaccinated. Several state capitals halted vaccinations this week due to a shortage of CoronaVac, one of four approved vaccines in Brazil.

6:12 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

More than a third of the US has been infected with Covid-19, CDC estimates

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

Roughly 35% of the population is estimated to have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 as of March, according to data shared Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency estimates the virus has led to 114.6 million infections, 97.1 million symptomatic illnesses and 5.6 million hospitalizations from February 2020 to March 2021.

This means total infections are estimated to be about four times higher than what’s been officially reported. The US hit 30 million cases toward the end of March.

That gap isn't quite as wide as what the agency reported in January, when it estimated an even higher proportion of Covid-19 infections were going unrecognized. Since then, the agency says it received more data on how often people with Covid-19 symptoms seek medical care and testing.

“These updated data indicated higher levels of health-seeking behavior than data included in our previous estimates,” CDC said.

It is unclear how these numbers might factor into herd immunity — including how long natural immunity might last and how much overlap there is with people who are now vaccinated. 

More data: Experts have long said the number of actual infections were significantly higher than reported, but how much higher has been a cause for debate.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates that 30% of the US has been infected as of April 19. This is a large jump from its previous update, just one week prior, when it estimated only 22% of the US had been infected.

“Our estimate of the percent infected to date has increased considerably from last week due to introducing corrections for waning antibodies in our analysis of seroprevalence surveys,” the institute explained last week. Unlike the CDC, the IHME model relies heavily on tests showing the prevalence of antibodies over time across the US. 

6:00 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Survey finds evidence schools can be a source of coronavirus spread

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A new study finds evidence that schools can be a source of coronavirus spread to staff and the families of students if those schools don’t take precautions such as requiring masks and limiting extracurricular activities.

Households where at least one child was back to school full-time in-person were 38% more likely to report someone infected with Covid-19 or a Covid-like illness, the team at Johns Hopkins University reported in the journal Science.

But the risk went down if schools imposed mitigation measures – by 9% for each measure added. If schools imposed seven or more different precautions, the increased risk disappeared, the team reported.

“Among those reporting seven or more mitigation measures, over 80% reported student and teacher mask mandates, restricted entry, extra space between desks and no supply sharing, and over 50% reported student cohorting, reduced class size and daily symptom screening,” epidemiologist Justin Lessler and colleagues wrote.

“The results presented here show a clear association between in-person schooling and the risk of Covid-19-related outcomes in adult household members, and that this association disappears when more than seven school-based mitigation measures are reported,” they added.

“In contrast, closing cafeterias, playgrounds and use of desk shields are associated with lower risk reductions (or even risk increases),” they wrote. “Notably, part-time in-person schooling is not associated with a decrease in the risk of Covid-19-related outcomes compared to full-time in-person schooling after accounting for other mitigation measures.”

By the numbers: The team surveyed more than 500,000 households across the country at the end of last year and the beginning of 2021.

“Schools play a unique role in the social fabric of the United States and other countries, and often create potential transmission connections between otherwise disparate communities,” they wrote.

“Even if transmission in classrooms is rare, activities surrounding in-person schooling, such as student pick-up and drop-off, teacher interactions, and broader changes to behavior when school is in session could lead to increases in community transmission,” they added. “One of the main reasons for a focus on schools is not the risk to students, but the risk that in-person schooling poses to teachers and family members, and its impact on the overall epidemic.”

They survey doesn’t prove in-person schooling is the cause of the increased transmission, they noted. Communities that have returned to full-time in-person school are also more likely to have residents who have returned to visiting bars and restaurants, for example.

5:27 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Outdoor restrictions in Connecticut will be lifted on May 1, governor says

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and food giveaway event in East Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and food giveaway event in East Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29. WFSB

On May 1, the curfew for businesses in Connecticut will move to midnight and outdoor restrictions will be lifted that same day.

For example, the use of masks in outdoor settings are not required, and there will be no table size limit for outdoor events, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.  

Over 80% of people 65 and over in the state have been vaccinated with at least their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Lamont said. 

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine clinics have resumed vaccination after the federal pause, he said. 

The number of Johnson & Johnson vaccines increases every day, said Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer.

“We’re hopeful to see a strong demand for J & J going forward,” he added. 

4:09 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

India's ruling party says the "responsibility is ours" when it comes to the worsening Covid-19 crisis

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Henry Hullah

A health worker walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a COVID-19 ward in New Delhi on April 27.
A health worker walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a COVID-19 ward in New Delhi on April 27. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

The responsibility for the devastating second wave that is sweeping India belongs “first and foremost” to the government but the situation could not have been foreseen, according to Narendra Taneja, a spokesperson for the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata party.

“We are in power, we are the government in India so of course responsibility is first and foremost ours, good or bad, whatever it is. It is our responsibility and we’re trying our very level best,” Taneja told CNN on Thursday. “A lot of people are saying that… we knew in February. At that time, scientists and doctors were more or less of the same view."

Taneja added: “Evidently something went wrong, evidently we were hit by a tsunami, and as you know, you’re often not aware. In most cases 80-90% reasons could be external. We don’t know. We don’t want to blame anybody. We know we’re in power, we are responsible...our focus is now on how we can save lives.”

Some context: Indian Prime Narendra Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) have come under fire for holding several mass rallies in the eastern West Bengal state with thousands in attendance between March and April ahead of state elections. Thursday was the last day of voting and polls have now closed in West Bengal.

When asked why his party continued to hold such events as cases rose, Taneja pushed back and said the “autonomous” Election Commission of India was responsible for allowing elections events to continue to take place over a one and a half month period.

Taneja said that BJP had “no option” on whether to hold rallies because of the Election Commission’s decision on when polls were held, saying “we as a political party—for that matter, all political parties in India—had no option but to go along with it.” 

2:34 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

CDC's ensemble forecast now projects up to 595,000 US Covid-19 deaths by May 22

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects that there will be 583,000 to 595,000 coronavirus deaths reported by May 22. 

The national ensemble predicts that the number of newly reported deaths will remain stable or have an uncertain trend over the next four weeks, the forecast said. 

The previous ensemble forecast, published April 21, projected up to 596,000 deaths by May 15. 

1:37 p.m. ET, April 29, 2021

US undergraduate enrollment in "steepest decline" since pandemic started, new data shows

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

Undergraduate enrollment in colleges and universities saw the "steepest decline" for the spring 2021 semester since the pandemic started, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released on Thursday.

Overall enrollment for the spring semester was down 5.9% compared with one year ago, while community colleges saw an 11.3% drop. The largest decline in enrollment is among 18-20 year-olds, who account for more than 40% of all undergraduate students. 

The data shows growth in graduate enrollment, however, with a 4.4% increase for the spring semester.

The data was also broken down by race and ethnicity, showing that Native Americans saw the largest decline, 13%, of any ethnic group this spring. Enrollment among White students dropped 8.5%, 8.8% among Black students, 7.3% among Latinx students, and 4.8% among Asian students.

The states seeing the most undergraduate decline are Alaska, Delaware, New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota, which all dropped double digits from last year.

Three states saw a small uptick in undergraduate enrollment: Nebraska, Utah, and West Virginia.