May 24 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, May 24, 2021
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8:18 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

First participants get shots in trial of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine booster 

From CNN's Naomi Thomas

The first participants in Pfizer’s new study looking at coadministration of a third dose of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine and a pneumococcal vaccine candidate received their shots Monday, the company said in a press release.

The trial’s primary objective is to look at safety of the vaccines when they are co-administered, as well as follow up six months after vaccination.

The trial will also look at immune responses produced by each vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccines help prevent illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, such as pneumonia. 

The trial will include 600 adults over the age of 65, recruited from the company’s large Covid-19 vaccine Phase 3 trial and who received their second Covid-19 vaccine at least six months before entering this study. 

Participants will be randomized into three groups: those who receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine candidate 20vPnC and a third booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine; those who receive 20vPnC and a placebo; and those who receive a Covid-19 booster shot and a placebo. 

Out of an abundance of caution, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended administering Covid-19 vaccines alone. 

The agency now says Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines can be administered without record to timing. “Although data are not available for COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, extensive experience with non-COVID-19 vaccines has demonstrated that immunogenicity and adverse event profiles are generally similar when vaccines are administered simultaneously as when they are administered alone,” the agency now says.

Read more about Covid-19 vaccine boosters.

8:12 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

6 US states reported less than 1 Covid-19 death per day last week, Johns Hopkins data shows

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Six US states reported an average of less than one Covid-19 death per day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

The states are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Montana
  3. North Dakota
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Vermont
  6. Wyoming

New Covid-19 case rates, however, vary widely among these states. Vermont and Hawaii reported about five new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over the past week, among the lowest in the country. But Rhode Island and Wyoming both reported more than double that, among the highest in the country.

Overall, there were an average of 546 Covid-19 deaths reported per day in the United States over the past seven days, JHU data shows.

This seven-day average is one of the 30 lowest for the US since the pandemic began and one of the 10 lowest in the past year.


9:06 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

New York City schools will be in-person only this fall, mayor says

From CNN’s Taylor Romine 

Students walk to class at Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131 on February 25, in New York City. 
Students walk to class at Sun Yat Sen M.S. 131 on February 25, in New York City.  Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

New York City schools will return to fully in-person learning with no remote option in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on MSNBC on Monday.  

De Blasio said that the increase in vaccinations, decrease in cases and layering of health measures will make the move possible. 

"It's just amazing the forward motion right now, the recovery that's happening in New York City," de Blasio said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "But you can't have a full recovery without full-strength schools, everyone back sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again."

To address some family's hesitancy to go back to in-person learning, parents will be able to visit their student's classrooms starting in June to see all the measures taken to reduce Covid-19 transmission, like cleaning and ventilation, de Blasio said. 

When asked if schools will be able to maintain US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for school, like three feet of social distancing, de Blasio said schools will be able to do that but that he also expects the agency to make adjustments before school starts in the fall. 

"We have proven that we can beat back Covid all over this country and school opens four months from now," he said. "So I absolutely believe Covid will continue to go down, vaccinations will go up, recovery will be strong- I think the CDC will be changing those rules quite a bit between now and September. But right now New York City public schools, we could have every child three feet apart, we could make that work if we had to. But I actually fundamentally believe by August the CDC will relax those rules further to recognize the progress we've made in this country."

2:33 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Wuhan lab director says US intelligence report is "a complete lie"

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Hubei province on February 3.
Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Hubei province on February 3. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

The director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Lab told Chinese state media Monday the claim in a new United States intelligence report that several researchers at the lab were hospitalized in November 2019, was "a complete lie."

"Those claims are groundless," lab director Yuan Zhiming told nationalist tabloid Global Times. "The lab has not been aware of this situation, and I don't even know where such information came from."

CNN has reached out to China's Foreign Ministry for a response. The ministry will hold its daily press briefing on Monday at 3 p.m. local time.

5:20 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

India becomes third country to top 300,000 Covid-19 deaths as vaccine shortage bites

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Relatives bury the body of a Covid-19 victim at a graveyard in New Delhi, on May 22.
Relatives bury the body of a Covid-19 victim at a graveyard in New Delhi, on May 22. Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

India reported 4,454 new Covid-19 fatalities on Monday, bringing the country's death toll to 303,720, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.

India is the third country to report more than 300,000 deaths from the virus, after Brazil and the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The health ministry also reported 222,315 new coronavirus infections, marking the fourth consecutive day that the number of cases reported in the country have declined.

However, Monday's death count is the highest daily death toll reported since May 19.

India has reported a total of 26,752,447 cases of coronavirus, according to the Indian Ministry of Health on Monday. At least 196,051,962 doses of Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered since January 16.

In the capital region of Delhi, supplies of the Covaxin vaccine may have already run out, Atishi Marlena, a senior member of the local government tweeted Sunday.

“It a serious matter of concern that after Monday, Covaxin will not be available for the second vaccine dose of those in the 45+ category!” Marlena said.

According to the Delhi government’s vaccination bulletin on Sunday evening, 1,530 doses of Covaxin vaccines were available in the territory.

The Delhi government on Sunday halted vaccinations for those between the ages of 18 and 44 due to a shortage of vaccines.

“There is a shortage of vaccines in the whole country ... if everyone receives the vaccine then perhaps we can save ourselves from the third wave,” Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Sunday.

The Ministry of Health said states will be provided 40,650 vaccine doses over the next three days.

3:20 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Black fungus cases in India rise to nearly 9,000 as government tries to fulfil drug requirements

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

India has recorded at least 8,848 cases of black fungus, or mucormycosis, according to data shared by a senior government minister Saturday, prompting officials to allocate more medicine to states and union territories.

Black fungus is a fungal infection that has increasingly been found among patients who have recovered from Covid-19 in India, and especially in patients who suffer from diabetes.

Gujarat is the worst-hit state with 2,281 cases, followed by Maharashtra with 2,000 cases, according to data. Cases have now been detected in 23 of India's 36 states and union territories, according to data from India's Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Sadanand Gowda.

Maharashtra state health minister Rajesh Tope said last week that the state, which has had at least 90 deaths from the disease, is facing a shortage of Amphotericin B for which it has issued a global tender.

As of Saturday, Maharashtra had received 5,090 additional vials of the drug, and Tope told reporters last week he has placed an order for 190,000 vials.

2:36 a.m. ET, May 24, 2021

Japan sees low uptake as vaccination drive ramps up in Tokyo and Osaka

From CNN's Chandler Thornton and Junko Ogura

Nurses wait to inoculate people with the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination centre in Tokyo, Japan on May 24.
Nurses wait to inoculate people with the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination centre in Tokyo, Japan on May 24. Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan has opened large-scale Covid-19 vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka with hopes to speed up its inoculation rollout.

The government said it aims to vaccinate up to 15,000 people per day. But on Monday, just 5,000 people were scheduled to receive shots at the Tokyo site and 2,500 at the Osaka facility.

The venues were set up by the central government and will administer Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine.

About 180 doctors and nurses from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces will work at the Tokyo site and 100 doctors and nurses will staff the Osaka venue.

Online reservations opened last week for people aged 65 and older in Tokyo and Osaka.

Senior citizens in the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa, as well as Kyoto and Hyogo, can book from next Monday.

Fewer than 2% of Japan's 126 million population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to data compiled by CNN.

9:37 p.m. ET, May 23, 2021

The women possibly at higher risk for Covid-19 that no one is talking about

From CNN's Alessandria Masi

Last July, when her immediate family tested positive for Covid-19, Breanna Aguilar did not fit into any groups considered at higher risk for severe disease.

She is 31 years old, a pet sitter and former fitness teacher who once ran a half marathon. She was, by most measures, healthy.

When Aguilar got Covid-19 she lost her sense of taste, had mild fevers and muscle weakness. She could barely keep anything down yet gained about 30 pounds. Later, she developed pelvic pain, cystic acne, breast tenderness, headaches, brain fog and extreme fatigue.

It has been months since then, but she says the low energy, chronic pain and brain fog -- long-haul Covid-19 symptoms -- remain and she can't even go for a 15-minute walk without needing a break. She's also now dealing with insulin resistance and taking several medications to keep that and her hormone levels under some control. Her doctor told her she'll likely be dealing with this fallout of Covid-19 for the rest of her life.

More than a year into the pandemic, one study has found that some women are at higher risk for Covid-19 compared to others in their age and sex groups. These women, often young and otherwise healthy like Aguilar, have an underlying condition that isn't mentioned on any Covid-19 comorbidity list: polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.

PCOS, which affect about 1 in 10 women of "childbearing age," is an imbalance of reproductive hormones that can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, high androgen levels and ovarian cysts. But it can also come with a host of other health problems, nearly all of which overlap Covid-19 comorbidities.

Read the full story:

9:34 p.m. ET, May 23, 2021

New information on Wuhan researchers' illness furthers debate on pandemic origins

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, Katie Bo Williams and Zachary Cohen

A US intelligence report found that several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized, a new detail about the severity of their symptoms that could fuel further debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two people briefed on the intelligence.

A State Department fact sheet released by the Trump administration in January said that the researchers had gotten sick in autumn 2019 but did not go as far as to say they had been hospitalized. China reported to the World Health Organization that the first patient with Covid-like symptoms was recorded in Wuhan on December 8, 2019.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the intelligence surrounding the earlier hospitalizations.

Importantly, the intelligence community still does not know what the researchers were actually sick with, said the people briefed, and continues to have low confidence in its assessments of the virus' precise origins beyond the fact that it came from China. "At the end of the day, there is still nothing definitive," said one of the people who has seen the intelligence.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers during the Worldwide Threats Hearing last month that "the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially," an assessment that has not changed, said two of the people briefed on the intelligence.

The current intelligence reinforces the belief that the virus most likely originated naturally, from animal-human contact, the sources said. But that does not preclude the possibility that the virus was the result of an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute, where coronavirus research was being conducted on bats.

Read the full story: