May 11 coronavirus news

By Brad Lendon, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, James Griffiths, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0007 GMT (0807 HKT) May 12, 2021
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10:29 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

AstraZeneca pledges $1 million in aid to India and other hard-hit communities  

From CNN’s Sarah Dean

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 ward in New Delhi, India, on April 27.
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment walks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 ward in New Delhi, India, on April 27. Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images

British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has pledged $1 million in humanitarian aid to India and other communities around the world hardest hit by the pandemic, a statement from the company said Tuesday.

“This includes directing $250,000 USD to Direct Relief to support their efforts in India, which includes the distribution of oxygen concentrators, medicines, other supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide treatment and care for those with COVID-19,” the statement said. It did not specify where the rest of the pledged money would be directed. 

“We remain steadfast in our continued commitment to changing the course of the pandemic for the people of India,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said. “We hope that through increasing vaccinations, humanitarian relief efforts, and critical donations of medicines and needed equipment, India will steadily recover from this crisis. We stand united with the people of India, as we work tirelessly to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible.”

CEO of the Serum Institute of India – the world's largest vaccine maker – Adar Poonawalla said in the statement: “We thank AstraZeneca for their unwavering support. We are working together to scale up and committed to provide more vaccines to India by July. This will help us to protect countless lives against this devastating virus.”

The SII is producing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Covishield, and has pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses for COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative that supplies discounted or free doses to lower-income countries. However, the SII has had to pause exports as India battles a deadly second wave of the coronavirus infections.

The SII responded to AstraZeneca's statement on Tuesday, tweeting: "Much appreciated help from AstraZeneca, will help save countless lives in India."

10:17 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

South African President: Unequal access to Covid-19 immunization amounts to "vaccine apartheid" 

From CNN's David McKenzie in Johannesburg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 6.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 6. Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty images

Allowing millions of people to die in poorer countries while wealthy countries immunize their populations could amount to “vaccine apartheid,” according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who also expressed his support for the proposal to waive patent rights for coronavirus shots.

“A situation in which the populations of advanced, rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid,” Ramaphosa said in statement Monday.

If the international community is "truly committed to human rights and the values of equality and non-discrimination, vaccines should be viewed as a global public good,” he said.

"They should be made available to all, not just to the highest bidders,” Ramaphosa added. 

Signs of change: Last week, the Biden administration announced that it is supporting the temporary waiver on intellectual property rights of Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.

The waiver on patents that belong to pharmaceutical companies would allow other nations to develop generic versions of the drugs.

Some experts say that even with patents waivers, much of the developing world doesn't necessarily have the means to produce vaccines at the scale needed. They say there is an urgent need to simply share more of the rich world's vaccines and to transfer technology to help poorer countries manufacture shots further down the line.

10:39 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

After WHO reclassifies B.1.617 variant, CDC says it’s still a "variant of interest" in US

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Although the World Health Organization now classifies the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first identified in India as a "variant of concern,” it is still classified as a "variant of interest" in the United States.

Classifications of coronavirus variants in the United States may differ from the classifications made by WHO "since the importance of variants may differ by location," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN in an email on Tuesday. 

The agency also noted that classifications could change — to escalate or deescalate — based on scientific evidence. The CDC works with the US Department of Health and Human Service' SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG) on its classification scheme for variants.

"Since the importance of variants may differ by location, CDC, in collaboration with the SIG, is closely monitoring the emergence of the B.1.617 variant in the United States," the email said in part. "And this variant has been prioritized for characterization by the US government to better understand the potential impact on available medical countermeasures, including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics."

10:02 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

CVS will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to 12-to-15-year-olds after CDC recommendation

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

A pharmacy intern at CVS prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Littleton, Massachusetts, in December 2020.
A pharmacy intern at CVS prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Littleton, Massachusetts, in December 2020. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

CVS pharmacies will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in people 12-15 years old after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends it, the company told CNN on Tuesday.  

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the administration of the vaccine in 12-to-15-year-olds on Monday.

CDC’s ACIP is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to vote on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in this age group.  

“We’re fully prepared to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 12-15 at thousands of CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide as soon as permitted,” Matt Blanchette, retail communications with CVS Pharmacy said Tuesday. 

8:07 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

14-year-old in line for vaccine in Georgia says seeing his friend with Covid-19 prompted him to get the shot

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A 14-year-old teen in Decatur, Georgia, lined up to get his Covid-19 vaccine a day after the US Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to adolescents as young as 12.

“My friend got Covid and it looked really bad, and I just did not want to get it,” Jacob Laney told CNN’s Nick Valencia.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet Wednesday to advise the CDC on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in this age group. But states make the decision on who gives the vaccines — and when.

“After I get my second dose, I might be able to see more people, but not actually go see them a lot. But, I think I'll be less scared of getting it and less scared of having issues involved with Covid-19,” he said.

Laney said he was out of his school building for a year over two grade changes. 

“We do go back to school now, but we have to be really far away and can't always talk to each other, and everyone has masks on. It's very confusing,” he said. 

Watch the interview:

3:11 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Germany passes 85,000 Covid-19 deaths

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A cremation technician brings a deceased person in a coffin labelled "SARS-CoV-2 positive Corona" for cremation at Giesen, Germany on April 28.
A cremation technician brings a deceased person in a coffin labelled "SARS-CoV-2 positive Corona" for cremation at Giesen, Germany on April 28. Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany has passed 85,000 deaths from coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institut, the national agency for disease control and prevention. 

In the past 24 hours, 283 deaths were added to the now overall toll of 85,112. 

An additional 6,125 Covid-19 cases were recorded Tuesday, bringing the new total to 3,533,376.

The overall seven-day incidence rate though is going down, and it now stands at 115.4.

Vaccination in the country has picked up, with 32.8% of the population vaccinated at least once and 9.4% of the population fully vaccinated, according to the German Ministry of Health. 

10:39 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

Philippines detects first two cases of Indian Covid variant

From journalist Yasmin Coles and CNN’s Gawon Bae

A medical worker conducts a swab test at a Covid-19 test site in Metro Manila, Philippines on April 26.
A medical worker conducts a swab test at a Covid-19 test site in Metro Manila, Philippines on April 26. Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Philippines has detected its first two cases of the Indian Covid variant B.1.617, the country’s Health Department said Tuesday. The cases are from two asymptomatic people without travel history to India and were workers returning from Oman and the UAE.

The two tested positive for the virus in April, the Health Department said. They are in quarantine while other passengers that shared the flight are being monitored. The passengers who shared rows with them on the flights have tested negative. 

The Health Department also said that it will test nine samples from 11 Filipino seafarers who contracted Covid-19 on the cargo ship MV Athens Bridge that had traveled to India and made a medical evacuation in Manila on May 7.

The country has been restricting entry for people with travel history to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the past 14 days. The ban is effective until May 14.

10:30 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

India records 329,942 new cases as total tally edges towards 23 million

From CNN’s Manveena Suri in Delhi

A health care worker collects swab samples in Mumbai, India on May 6.
A health care worker collects swab samples in Mumbai, India on May 6. Satish Bate/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India recorded 329,942 cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 22,992,517, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.

This is the second day in a row that the number of new daily cases reported has been below 400,000. India had previously recorded four consecutive days of over 400,000 cases. 

The country also reported 3,876 deaths Tuesday. Since April 28, the daily number of deaths has exceeded 3,000, with the total death toll at 249,992. 

India is the second-worst affected country after the United States with 32.7 million cases and ahead of Brazil, which has the third-highest number of cases at 15.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

To date, 172,633,761 vaccine doses have been administered in India. With 37,159,467 people having received their second dose, around 2.85% of India’s 1.3 billion-strong population is fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said this week.

2:20 a.m. ET, May 11, 2021

EU to hit AstraZeneca with second lawsuit over Covid-19 vaccine delivery 

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad 

Boxes of AstraZeneca vaccines are seen in cold storage in Oss, Netherlands on April 6.
Boxes of AstraZeneca vaccines are seen in cold storage in Oss, Netherlands on April 6. Rob Engelaar/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission will take further legal action against AstraZeneca over delayed shipments of its Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, an EU spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. 

Stefan De Keersmaecker, European Commission spokesperson for health, food safety and transport, said: “The second lawsuit concerns the merits of the case: on the basis of the provisions of the Advance Purchase Agreement [APA], the Commission requests the Court to adjudicate whether AstraZeneca has violated the APA.” 

“Tomorrow, the introductory hearing will take place. The Court is expected to fix the deadlines for the submission of trial briefs and hearings,” he added. 

On April 26, the EU announced it was suing AstraZeneca over an alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract, a dramatic escalation of a months-long dispute over delivery delays that hampered the rollout of shots across the continent. 

The 27 nations of the European Union had ordered 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the British-Swedish drugmaker to be delivered by the end of June, with an option to purchase an additional 100 million. But deliveries of the vaccine repeatedly fell short, sparking a bitter public fight over the terms of the contract. 

In his statement on Monday, De Keersmaecker said that the first case was an emergency injunction while the second is a lawsuit on the merits of the case.  

Regarding that first lawsuit, he said, “Given the urgent need of vaccine doses to continue the vaccination in the Member States, the Commission asked the court to require the company to deliver a sufficient number of doses. The court will only make a preliminary assessment of the case and assess whether there is an emergency to deliver doses. The hearing in this case will take place on 26 May.” 

He said the objective of the commission is the same through both lawsuits, that is, “ensuring, through legal actions, the delivery of a sufficient number of doses for the European citizens.”