May 6 coronavirus news

By Brad Lendon, Joshua Berlinger, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT) May 7, 2021
18 Posts
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9:43 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

India reports highest-ever 24-hour surge in Covid-19 cases and a record-high daily death toll

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in Delhi

A health worker walks inside the Commonwealth Games stadium temporarily converted into a Covid-19 care center in New Delhi, India, on May 5.
A health worker walks inside the Commonwealth Games stadium temporarily converted into a Covid-19 care center in New Delhi, India, on May 5. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

India reported a 412,262 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, a new single-day record, according to a CNN tally compiled from figures released by the Indian Health Ministry. 

To date, authorities have identified 21,077,410 cases of coronavirus.

The country also reported 3,980 Covid-19 related deaths on Thursday, another new single-day record. It was the ninth consecutive day that the number of fatalities identified in a 24-hour period exceeded 3,000.

To date, 230,168 who have contracted the virus in India have died.

India is in the midst of a severe second wave of cases. In the past 30 days, the country has recorded 8.3 million cases. Since April 22, more than 300,000 cases have been added every day.

9:26 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

Moderna says Covid-19 vaccine shows 96% efficacy in teens in early data

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is in Staten Island, New York, on April 16.
A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is in Staten Island, New York, on April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, has shown an efficacy of 96% among teens in early data, CEO Stéphane Bancel announced during an earnings call on Thursday.

 Moderna's trial in teens, called the TeenCOVE study, includes people ages 12 to 17.

"We are pleased to report this morning an interim update to our TeenCOVE study," Bancel said. "An initial interim analysis of our Phase 2/3 TeenCOVE study of mRNA-1273 showed vaccine efficacy against Covid-19 of 96% and mRNA-1273 was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns identified to date."

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is currently authorized for use in people ages 18 and older.

9:03 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

US Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are at their lowest in months. Here are the figures.

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

US Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are at their lowest points in nearly seven months. Deaths from Covid-19 have not been this low since July. 

The seven-day average of Covid-19 cases is at its lowest point in nearly seven months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

  • The US is currently averaging 46,656 Covid-19 cases per day, an average that has not been this low since early October, JHU data shows.
  • At their peak, new cases averaged 251,057 per day in early January – marking an 81% decrease in just under 4 months.
  • At that point in the pandemic, the US had seen a total of 7.6 million Covid-19 cases, now the US has totaled 32.5 million cases.

Deaths are also at their lowest point in many months.

  • Right now, the US sees an average of 686 deaths per day, according to JHU.
  • The nation has not seen the 7-day average of deaths this low since July 10 – nearly 10 months ago.
  • At its peak on January 14, the US was averaging 3,432 deaths per day, JHU data shows.

Hospitalizations are also down significantly, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

  • Currently the US is reporting 39,897 hospitalizations, per HHS data.
  • This number had briefly dipped just slightly lower in mid to late March.
  • The nation has not consistently remained below the 40,000 threshold since the second week of October.   
  • At its peak, the nation saw and average of 133,811 hospitalizations in mid-January.
8:59 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

Indian health ministry says it is "swiftly clearing" all oxygen concentrators through customs 

From CNN's Vedika Sud and Chandler Thornton

This photograph released by the Indian External Affairs Ministry shows a shipment containing 120 oxygen concentrators that arrived in India from the UK on April 29.
This photograph released by the Indian External Affairs Ministry shows a shipment containing 120 oxygen concentrators that arrived in India from the UK on April 29. Indian External Affairs Ministry/AP

India's health ministry denied reports that oxygen concentrators arriving from other countries are pending at customs.

"The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has clarified that there is no such pendency with Indian Customs," the health ministry said in a press release Thursday. "The Indian Customs is swiftly clearing all consignments & no such figures of pendency exist across any port of import."

India has received 3,000 oxygen concentrators from across the world as part of Covid-19 aid efforts, the ministry added. 

Mauritius sent 200 oxygen concentrators, Russia sent 20, UK sent four shipments totaling in 669 concentrators, Romania sent 80, Ireland sent 700, Thailand sent 30, China sent 1,000, Uzbekistan sent 151, and Taiwan sent 150, according to the ministry.

Some background: As India's Covid-19 crisis worsens, dozens of countries have pledged critical aid. However, medical workers and local officials continue to report the same devastating shortages that have strained the health care system for weeks now — raising questions, even among foreign donors, of where the aid is going.

Any media reports alleging that the concentrators are pending at customs are "totally incorrect," the ministry said.

"The oxygen concentrators are either delivered to the identified tertiary care institutions, or been dispatched for delivery," the ministry added. "There are no oxygen contractors lying in the warehouse of the Customs Department."

Customs are working 24/7 to "fast track and clear the goods on arrival" and the Covid-19 equipment are given "high priority for clearance," according the ministry.

The same clarification was also given to the Delhi High Court by government's counsel recently, the press release added.

8:36 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

India receives first part of oxygen-generating plant shipment from Germany

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

India has received the first part of an oxygen-generating plant shipment from Germany, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet Thursday.

“Deeply grateful to our trusted partner Germany for providing a massive oxygen generating plant. Capacity to generate up to 4 lakh [400,000] litres of O2/day. Being shipped in 2 parts. 1st part arrived today. Further boosts our oxygen capacities,” Bagchi said.

The official Twitter account for Germany’s Luftwaffe, its air force, shared video and images of the shipment, saying it was cracking on with its humanitarian relief mission to India.

“Another A400M is loaded with lifesaving equipment to support the fight against Covid. Great cooperation between the Luftwaffe, the German federal armed forces medical service and the European Union,” one tweet said.

On Wednesday, Col. Wolfgang Stern, deputy commodore of the German Airforce Transport Fleet 62, said in an on camera interview: “Flights like these are never routine and especially in this case where we fly all the way to India and carry a cargo which has never been shipped before the preparation and planning requires extra attention. But especially if there are human lives at stake we feel the special motivation in everybody involved which makes those flights so special."

"The equipment can produce 400,000 litres of gaseous oxygen per day under schoolbook conditions which means supplying 28 patients in intensive care," Major Sascha Haugk, a logistics expert in the medical service added in the German army handout video.

Some more background: As India's Covid-19 crisis tipped past breaking point last month, dozens of countries pledged critical aid. Planeloads of ventilators, oxygen supplies and antiviral drugs began arriving last week, with photos showing massive parcels being unloaded at New Delhi airport.

However, much of the shipped cargo was not immediately delivered as hospitals on the ground pleaded for more provisions. Medical workers and local officials are still reporting the same devastating shortages that have strained the health care system for weeks now — raising questions, even among foreign donors, of where the aid is going.

Indian government junior cabinet minister Ashwini Kr. Choubey tweeted Wednesday that “Covid-19 supplies received from the global community have been effectively allocated to states and UTs by Government of India.”

7:30 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

Supporting a TRIPS waiver is a bad idea, developer of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine developer Dr. Özlem Türeci on May 6.
Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine developer Dr. Özlem Türeci on May 6. CNN

A temporary waiver on the TRIPS agreement is a bad idea, Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine developer Dr. Ozlem Tureci said after the Biden administration announced a major decision to support it.

What is the TRIPS agreement: The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Here's some background: At a WTO meeting last year, India and South Africa proposed a temporarily suspension of intellectual property rights in an effort to boost production of Covid-19 vaccines and medicines for low-income nations. It was backed by over 80 developing countries. A temporary ban would allow multiple actors to start production sooner, instead of having manufacturing concentrated in the hands of a small number of patent holders, the Lancet reported.
But richer countries, including Britain, Switzerland, EU nations and the US, blocked it, arguing that protecting the IP would encourage research and innovation, while suspending the IP would not result in a sudden surge of vaccine supply.

That is also what BioNTech's co-founder and chief medical officer Dr. Tureci argued.

"Patents are not the limiting factor for the production of, for example, our vaccine," Dr. Tureci told CNN. "There are a number of important factors in producing vaccines. For example, our manufacturing process involves more than 50,000 steps, all of which have to be executed accurately in order to ensure the efficacy and safety of vaccine. It takes experienced personnel, it takes specialized facilities, it takes access to raw materials."

Instead, it's more important to ensure legal, administrative and organizational solutions for vaccine manufacturers, she said.

A patent waiver "will not increase the number of doses we will have available within the next 12 months. It will probably act towards increasing chaos in production," she added.

US President Joe Biden as a candidate promised to support such waivers, but had been under pressure from pharmaceutical companies to keep them in place.

Officials have been clear that the President's decision to support this waiver is a preliminary step and will not guarantee the global patent rules are lifted right away.

7:58 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

Pfizer/BioNTech to donate vaccine doses for Olympic athletes

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

The Olympic rings are lit up at dusk on the Odaiba waterfront in Tokyo on April 28.
The Olympic rings are lit up at dusk on the Odaiba waterfront in Tokyo on April 28. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Pfizer/BioNTech will donate Covid-19 vaccine doses to Olympic athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games scheduled for July.

"As part of the plans to ensure safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to donate doses of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine to Games participants from National Olympic and Paralympic Committees around the world," the IOC said in a statement Thursday. 

The IOC said the national committees will work with local governments to coordinate distribution of the vaccines "in accordance with each country’s vaccination guidelines and consistent with local regulations."

The committee added it encourages athletes to get vaccinated in their home countries before traveling to Japan. "This is not only to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the residents of Japan," the IOC said, adding that based on feedback from national committees it expects "a significant proportion" of athletes will be vaccinated before arriving.

"It is important to note that any additional doses delivered by Pfizer and BioNTech will not be taken out of existing programmes, but will be in addition to existing quotas and planned deliveries around the world," the IOC added.

“This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. 

“By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities,” Bach added.

5:40 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

The US CDC lists the B.1.617 variant first detected in India as a variant of a interest

From CNN Health's Naomi Thomas and CNN's Swati Gupta in Delhi

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday listed the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first detected in India as a "variant of interest," suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or reduce vaccine efficacy.  

B.1.617, which is now the most common variant in India, has also been found in the United Kingdom and the United States, and was recently detected in Israel.

How the CDC defines variants of interest: Variants with specific genetic markers that have been linked with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralization by antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy or treatments, potential diagnostic impact or predicted increase in transmissibility or severity of disease. Attributes of the variant include potential reduction in neutralization by some monoclonal antibodies and potential reduction in neutralization from vaccines. 

The Director of India’s National Center for Disease Control, Sujeet Singh, said Wednesday that the surge in Covid-19 cases in India in the last 1.5 months in some states shows a correlation with the rise in the B.1.617 variant, though further analysis is needed. 

"We have not been able to establish the epidemiological and clinical correlation completely yet," Singh said in a health ministry press briefing. "This correlation is the main aspect and without it we cannot link a particular surge to the variant." 

The CDC classifies coronavirus variants by three levels: variant of interest, variant of concern, or variant of high consequence.

Current variants of concern include B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, P.1, the variant first identified in Brazil, B.1351, the variant first identified in South Africa and B.1.427 and B.1.429, variants first identified in California. 

7:03 a.m. ET, May 6, 2021

India's Kerala state to be put under lockdown until May 16

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

A policeman checks on commuters during weekend restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Kochi, Kerala state, India, on April 25.
A policeman checks on commuters during weekend restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Kochi, Kerala state, India, on April 25. R S Iyer/AP

The southern Indian state Kerala will go into lockdown from May 8 until May 16, Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan Pinarayi announced Thursday. 

Kerala reported 41,953 new cases and 58 deaths on May 5. 

The state's active caseload is more than 375,000 cases -- the third highest across all states.