December 15 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 16, 2020
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6:52 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Covid vaccines may not reach a quarter of the world's people until 2022, study finds

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Dr. Victoria Adams, Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist, holds one of the first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses in the vaccination pod at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, on Tuesday, December 15.
Dr. Victoria Adams, Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist, holds one of the first Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses in the vaccination pod at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, on Tuesday, December 15. Victor J. Blue for CNN

Just over half of all planned doses of coronavirus vaccines have been bought up by high-income countries such as the US, Japan and Australia, which means as much as a quarter of the world’s population will be unable to get vaccinated until 2022, researchers reported Tuesday.

These rich countries have pre-ordered close to 7.5 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, enough to vaccinate 3.76 billion people, Anthony So of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues found.

“Just over half (51%) of these doses will go to high income countries, which represent 14% of the world’s population,” they wrote in their report, published in the BMJ.

At the time the report was written, the US accounted for one-fifth of all global Covid-19 cases but had reserved 800 million doses of vaccine. Japan, Australia, and accounted for fewer than 1% of cases but had options on 1 billion doses.

The researchers projected that the 13 major vaccine manufacturers working on coronavirus vaccines had the potential capacity for close to 6 billion courses of vaccine by the end of 2021. 

“High income countries have reserved just over half of these vaccine doses from 13 leading vaccine manufacturers. Low and middle income countries have the remainder, despite these countries comprising more than 85% of the world’s population,” they wrote.

“Even if all 13 of these vaccine manufacturers were to succeed in reaching their maximum production capacity, at least a fifth of the world’s population would not have access to vaccines until 2022.”

There’s one effort that is trying to get around this – COVAX, coordinated by the World Health Organization, global vaccines initiative Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The group is trying to build manufacturing capacity for 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine. 

“The COVAX Facility could play a key role in ensuring access to Covid-19 vaccines. However, its target of two billion doses by the end of 2021 is still short on premarket vaccine commitments and financing to deliver on this goal,” So’s team noted.

6:30 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Nearly one third of Black Americans remain hesitant to get Covid-19 vaccine, study finds

From CNN's Nicquel Terry Ellis

As the first Covid-19 vaccinations are being administered across the country this week, Black Americans remain among the groups that have the least confidence in the vaccine, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The findings come as the nation's top health leaders urge Black people to trust the vaccine, by hosting live events where Black health professionals are among the first to receive and administer it.

The Kaiser study found that 35% of Black Americans would probably or definitely not get the vaccine if it was determined to be safe by scientists and widely available for free.

Of the Black Americans who are hesitant to get the vaccine, the majority, or 71%, said they were concerned about possible side effects, half were worried they would get Covid-19 from taking the vaccine and 48% said they have a general distrust in vaccines.

Other studies have noted that Black and Latino people cite distrust in the federal government and the nation's history of racism in medical research as key reasons for their hesitancy.

Sandra Lindsay, a Black critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was one of the first Americans to receive the vaccine on Monday. It was delivered by Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, who is also Black.

Lindsay told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she felt fine after taking the vaccine. Lindsay said the shot felt no different than the influenza vaccine she gets annually.

"I have no fear. I trust my profession is deeply rooted in science ..." Lindsay said. "What I don't trust is getting Covid-19 because I don't know how it will affect me and the people around me that I could potentially transfer the virus to."

Nearly 40% of reported Covid-19 cases have been Black and Latino people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many people of color are concerned the vaccine developers haven't take into account the needs of their ethnic group, the Kaiser study shows.

It found that 48% of Black adults said they were not confident the needs of Black people were considered and 36% of Latino adults said the same about the needs of Latino people. 

However, people of color overwhelmingly, or 85%, said they would trust vaccine information from their personal doctor or health care provider at least a fair amount, according to the study.

Black doctors have been at the forefront of efforts to build trust around the vaccine with Black people.

Dr. Yves Duroseau, chair of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, was also among the first to receive the vaccine this week. Duroseau told CNN's Poppy Harlow that he hoped to influence communities that have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.

"With the rollout of the vaccination there has been, quite frankly, message that we have to be ethical about this, we have to be fair, we have to protect the vulnerable," Duroseau said.

"And we have to reach out to not just minorities but rural areas, we have to make sure that everyone is included."

Ernest Grant, the president of the American Nurses Association, participated in a vaccine trial this fall to combat fears in the Black community with taking the vaccine.

"At some point there's always that potential that it (Covid-19) could happen to you and if I know there is a cure that could potentially save me from that, I think I would go for the cure," Grant told CNN last month.

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently acknowledged Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black woman and one of the lead scientists who helped develop the vaccine, with hopes that it would convince Black people to trust the process.

"So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you're going to be taking was developed by an African American woman," Fauci said at a National Urban League event earlier this month. "And that is just a fact."

6:24 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Navajo Nation administers its first Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN’s Andy Rose

An Indian Health Service worker in Arizona was the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on the Navajo Nation. Ronald Begay was administered the shot on Monday at the Chinle Comprehensive Health care Facility. 

“Just because this vaccine is here doesn’t mean to stop or put our masks away,” Begay said during a virtual town hall for Navajo residents Tuesday. “People should ask themselves what their priorities are.”

The Navajo Nation has put some of the most stringent rules in the country in place to deal with the virus, including a 24/7 stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation until Dec. 28, with exceptions only for emergencies and essential services. 

“We feel like this is the first step toward seeing a return to a normal life,” said Chinle public health director Dr. Jill Moses. “We’ve been working hard for so long.”
5:21 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Navy's top admiral encourages sailors to get the vaccine

From CNN's Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr

The Navy’s top admiral encouraged sailors to get the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, while adding that he plans to receive it “shortly.”

“I ask that every member of our Navy team strongly consider receiving the vaccine not only for yourself, but for your shipmates, your family, and your fellow citizens,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday wrote in a message to the fleet. 

Because the vaccine has only received emergency use authorization, receiving it is still voluntary for military personnel.

“I will receive the vaccine shortly after it is made available to senior DoD leadership,” Gilday added.

One of the reasons senior leaders were prioritized by the Defense Department in terms of receiving the vaccine was in order to convince military personnel that it was safe and effective.

5:13 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

107-year-old Minnesota woman beats Covid-19 

From CNN's Kay Jones

A 107-year-old Minnesota woman has beaten Covid-19. 

Tillie Dybing was diagnosed with Covid-19 this fall, according to officials at the Ecumen Detroit Lakes community home, where she has lived since 2015.

She told CNN affiliate KARE that when she was diagnosed, she had no symptoms, other than being tired. She recently returned to her apartment at the facility after spending a few weeks away from the general population, Ecumen officials tell CNN. 

Dybing told KARE that her parents got sick during the 1918 flu pandemic just before she was five and she remembers it well. Dybing said she is also a cancer survivor, having beaten uterine cancer at the age of 95, KARE reported. 

Ecumen said they are happy Dybing has recovered and thanked her family for trusting them with her care. 

"We continue to be so grateful to see that smile and hear her infectious laugh each day," Ecumen Detroit Lakes posted on their its Facebook page. "She is such a blessing to our community!"

6:05 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Florida governor says next two weeks of Pfizer vaccine shipments are "on hold right now"

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Florida is trying to determine what additional shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will be delivered this month, said Gov. Ron DeSantis, since shipments for the next two weeks are “on hold right now."

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, the governor said he didn’t know if Florida would be receiving shipments or not, saying that the root of the delay is “a production issue with Pfizer." He added that it "has nothing to do with the federal government, or nothing to do specifically with Florida.”

DeSantis said the state sent vaccines to five select hospitals so that mistakes wouldn’t be exacerbated and to “get everything on target the first time.” The governor said hospitals beyond those initial five will start vaccinating their staff this week “without a problem.”

The governor said he expects Covid-19 mortality will “crater” as vaccines start being administered to those most at risk for Covid-19.

DeSantis went on to urge the state to focus on efforts mitigating the risk to more “vulnerable people,” but said imposing mandates is not an option for him.  

Watch here:

4:44 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Pennsylvania reports highest Covid-19 death count since start of pandemic

From CNN's Evan Simko-Bednarski

Registered nurse Laura Moore, left, swabs a patient during testing for Covid-19 organized by Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers at Mifflin Square Park on Thursday, December 10, in south Philadelphia.
Registered nurse Laura Moore, left, swabs a patient during testing for Covid-19 organized by Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers at Mifflin Square Park on Thursday, December 10, in south Philadelphia. Matt Slocum/AP

Pennsylvania reported 270 additional fatalities from Covid-19 on Tuesday, the state's highest death count since the pandemic began, according to state health officials.

The Department of Health also reported 9,556 additional infections Tuesday. At least 6,026 Pennsylvanians are currently hospitalized with the disease, with 1,249 of those cases requiring intensive care.

The deaths come as Pennsylvania has begun to administer the first shipments of Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the state, an effort that Gov. Tom Wolf said would proceed despite expectations of severe winter weather in the region.

"Every agency involved in winter weather preparedness has a role to play in helping to ensure that vaccine distributions proceed smoothly and safely in the coming days," Wolf said during a briefing Tuesday.

More on the vaccine: Wolf said the state is expecting some 97,000 doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine this week, in addition to over 13,000 doses earmarked specifically for Philadelphia. Those doses will be shipped as they become available from the manufacturer, and may be traversing snowy roads this week as the region could see up to two feet of snow.

Wolf urged Pennsylvanians to stay off the roads during the expected winter storm.

4:34 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Ohio receives more than 98,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, governor says

From CNN's Anna Sturla 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the state received 98,475 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine this week, and more shipments will arrive in the new year.

The state expects to receive 123,000 doses from Pfizer and 201,900 from Moderna next week, the governor said. However, DeWine cautioned during a news conference Tuesday that supplies of the vaccine were limited.

"These vaccinations will take place, one way or another," DeWine said in response to questions on congressional funding. "There will be nothing to slow these vaccinations down."

What the numbers look like: Ohio announced 8,755 new Covid-19 cases and 103 deaths on Tuesday. There were 614 new hospitalizations due to the virus, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Hospitalizations have increased steeply since the start of the pandemic, the governor said. Ohio has the nation's fifth-highest case rate for the past seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We're exceedingly high. This is not where we want to be," DeWine said. "We're in a worse position than we have ever been in regard to this virus. The next few days are absolutely critical."

DeWine said the state had sent additional guidance to local health departments on Tuesday about whom to prioritize for vaccinations, such as group home residents and staff.

3:12 p.m. ET, December 15, 2020

Vice President Pence likely to get vaccine by Friday

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Vice President Mike Pence is likely to receive the coronavirus vaccine by Friday, two sources familiar with the plans tell CNN.  

It’s unclear if he will receive it before President Trump. 

Tentative plans are being made for Pence to receive it on camera.