December 21 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Steve George, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 22, 2020
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11:48 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

When can kids get a Covid-19 vaccine?

A Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC, on December 17.
A Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington, DC, on December 17. Shawn Thew/Pool/Getty Images

It's the big question many parents want to know – when can kids safely receive the vaccine and what should households do until then?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, offered some insight on the topic during CNN's Sesame Street Town Hall on Saturday.

"When you get a new vaccine you generally want to show the safety and the efficacy in an adult population," Fauci explained.

"Once you do, then you start doing trials, maybe a couple of months later, in the children so you can as quickly as possible get them the vaccine," he said.

"We're looking at January, we're going to start some trials in children. We'll start with children who are a bit older and work our way down, so that hopefully in a few months, we'll be able to tell children, what I know we'll be able to say 'the vaccine is safe and effective in you and we're anxious to get you vaccinated," Fauci added.

Asked if the vaccine will make Covid-19 disappear completely, Dr. Fauci said that's the ultimate goal, "to get rid of Covid-19 completely."

"Once you get the overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated, the level of the virus is going to go down and down and down and then it's going to turn out to be no problem. So you're going to be able to do all the things you've been asking me about, you're going to be able to hug, you're going to be able to kiss, you're going to be able to have fun with your family," Fauci said. "But, the only way we get there is if we get a broad acceptance of the vaccine," he added.

Watch Dr. Fauci answer kids' questions on Covid-19 below:

10:51 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Pakistan suspends travel from the UK

From CNN’s Sophia Saifi

Pakistan is suspending direct or indirect travel from the United Kingdom into the country. 

According to a statement released by Pakistan’s aviation ministry the suspension will be in effect from Dec. 23-30. 

The ban is for travelers who "originate travel and are in or have been in the UK over the past ten days."

Transit passengers traveling via the UK will be allowed access into the country permitting that they do not leave the airport in the UK. 

Pakistani passport holders who have traveled to the UK on a visitor or a temporary visa will be allowed to return under certain conditions. This includes a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to travel and a PCR test on arrival. Passengers will be required to stay in a government facility until the test result arrives along with a mandatory enforced home isolation for a week. 

All passengers who have already arrived from the UK in the past week will have to get tested.

This decision will be reviewed on Dec. 28. 

10:52 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Denmark bans flights from the UK for 48 hours 

From CNN’s James Frater and Yong Xiong

Denmark has temporarily banned air travel from the UK for 48 hours until 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht said in a statement Monday that Denmark is "in a very serious situation" with infection widespread throughout the country.

"The government chooses therefore to close flights from the UK for 48 hours, so there is more time to assess what measures need to be taken," Engelbrecht said.

Christian Howard-Jessen, a press officer at Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut, told CNN they have detected ten people with the coronavirus variant in Denmark. All these patients were found two weeks ago or earlier and all of them have recovered, so there’s no known active case with the coronavirus variant in Denmark, Howard-Jessen said. At least some of these ten people had been to the UK. 

Howard-Jessen explained that Denmark’s "huge testing capacity" led them to detecting these ten cases. "We sequence 20-25% of all test that are found positive for coronavirus. The consequence is that we will find a lot more cases than other countries," he added. 

11:10 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be administered this afternoon in New York

From CNN’s Alexandra Field

Boxes containing the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for shipment at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, on December 20.
Boxes containing the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for shipment at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, on December 20. Paul Sancya/Pool/AP

Moderna vaccines have arrived at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital in Valley Stream, New York, and vaccinations will begin this afternoon.

Moderna's candidate is the most recent vaccine to receive an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration

This is the second vaccines given the greenlight from health agencies: Already, more than 556,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 2.8 million doses have been distributed to the facilities. 

10:48 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Spain will refuse entry to travelers from the UK starting tomorrow

Fron CNN’s Claudia Rebaza

Spain’s government, in coordination with Portugal, will refuse entry to travelers from the UK starting tomorrow, Spain’s La Moncloa announced via social media on Monday afternoon. 

Spanish citizens and residents are exempt. 

The government also announced it will reinforce border controls in Gibraltar. 

Some background: A new coronavirus variant discovered in the UK has prompted a new lockdown and travel bans.

But remember: There is no evidence the new variants are any more virulent, meaning they do not cause more severe disease. They do not appear to impact the effects of treatments or the protection offered by vaccines.

9:57 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

US stock prices tumble as new coronavirus variant sends Europe into lockdown

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

US stocks tumbled at the opening bell in New York Monday as worries over a new variant of the coronavirus overshadowed news of a second pandemic relief bill that was agreed in Washington late Sunday.

The Dow sank 275 points, or 0.9%, while the broader S&P 500 opened 1.2% lower. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.2%.

Meanwhile, Washington agreed on a $900 billion stimulus package, including enhanced jobless benefits and direct payments.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the deal on Monday before it goes to the Senate. Getting another stimulus deal was a top priority for investors over the past months, but now that it's here, the good news is overshadowed by the new virus developments.

10:08 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

UK working closely with international partners to minimize travel disruptions

From CNN’s Luke McGee

Lorries are parked on the M20 near Folkestone in Kent, England, on December 21, after the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel were closed.
Lorries are parked on the M20 near Folkestone in Kent, England, on December 21, after the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel were closed. Steve Parsons/PA/AP

The British government says it is working closely with its international partners after at least two dozen countries — including its closest neighbors — announced new restrictions limiting travel from the UK following the detection of a new variant of coronavirus. 

According to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is working to support British nationals affected by the travel disruptions caused by the new restrictions. They will be providing food, drink and toilets for British truck drivers currently stuck in gridlock in the area surrounding the Eurotunnel — a key gateway to Europe for the transport of freight to and from the UK. 

During a briefing on Monday morning, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson tried to allay fears over supply chains being impacted by travel restrictions. He said the majority of food supplies to the UK do not come via the English Channel and asserted that Britain’s supply chains are "resilient," with many retailers having already stocked up on goods ahead of the Christmas period.  

The Prime Minister is expected to give a press briefing Monday afternoon, after chairing an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing Street to address the fallout of the new international travel restrictions. 

9:50 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

European Union drug regulator recommends authorizing Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine

From CNN's Kara Fox

The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is pictured on December 8 in Cardiff, Wales.
The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is pictured on December 8 in Cardiff, Wales. Justin Tallis/Pool/Getty Images

The European Union drug regulator has recommended authorizing the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use, paving the way for the first phase of the bloc's mass vaccination program to begin later this week.

In a closed-door meeting in Amsterdam on Monday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) granted the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine a conditional marketing authorization, green lighting the drug for distribution.

Before the 27-nation bloc can begin its rollout, the European Commission must give its final approval, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would likely happen later on Monday.

"It's a decisive moment in our efforts to deliver safe & effective vaccines to Europeans," von der Leyen tweeted. "Now we will act fast. I expect a decision by this evening," she said.

The EMA's head of communications Marie-Agnes Heine called the move a "significant milestone in the fight against the pandemic" during a virtual press briefing with reporters.

The UK and the US granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier this month, and hundreds of thousands in those countries have since received their first shots.

Read more about the vaccine approval process in Europe here.

9:35 a.m. ET, December 21, 2020

Here's a list of the countries banning travel from the UK over a new Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

An almost deserted Terminal 5 departures hall is pictured at Heathrow Airport in London on December 21.
An almost deserted Terminal 5 departures hall is pictured at Heathrow Airport in London on December 21. Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the United Kingdom reversed plans to loosen restrictions over Christmas and announced strict lockdowns across much of the country, citing concerns about a variant of the coronavirus believed to be much more infectious.

Alarm over the new variant, which was first identified in the southeast of England, has resulted in British travelers being cut off from much of Europe and other parts of the world as countries imposed restrictions on travel from the UK.

While the new variant of Covid-19 is believed to originate in England, it has also been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and in Australia, World Health Organization Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said on Sunday. Researchers are investigating a similar variant of the virus in South Africa, prompting additional travel restrictions from there.

Remember: No evidence the new variants are any more virulent, meaning they do not cause more severe disease. They do not appear to affect the effects of treatments or the protection offered by vaccines

Here's a list of countries that have banned travel from the UK so far:

  • Russia: Russia is suspending flights to and from the UK for a week starting midnight, Moscow time on Dec. 22, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported citing Russian coronavirus response headquarters.
  • Jordan: The government has decided to suspend all direct and indirect (transit) passenger flights from the United Kingdom starting Monday and lasting through Jan. 3. The news was announced in a statement from Jordanian Government spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs Ali Al-Ayed 
  • Oman: Oman will shut down its air, sea and land borders starting Tuesday Dec. 22, for a period of one week to monitor the new variant of coronavirus reported by the United KingdomOman state news agency reported.
  • Argentina: According to a joint statement published Sunday by the Argentinian Health and Interior Ministries, Argentina will only allow one more flight from Britain to land at the international airport in Buenos Aires on Monday morning. Later flights have been canceled.   
  • Belgium: Belgium will block travelers from the United Kingdom on Monday because of the coronavirus variant that has emerged there, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Sunday morning.
  • Bulgaria: Prime Minister Boyko Borissov convened a working meeting on Sunday with members of his Cabinet in response to the new variant, during which it was decided to temporarily suspend air travel between Bulgaria and the United Kingdom starting Monday until Jan. 31, his office said.
  • Canada: Canada says it will ban most passenger travel from the UK beginning midnight Sunday for at least 72 hours. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the news in a tweet Sunday night saying it was being done to "protect" Canadians across the country.   
  • Chile: The Chilean government announced that all flights to and from the UK will be suspended beginning on Tuesday, and that travelers who have been to the UK in the last 14 days would have to self-quarantine.  
  • Colombia: Colombian President Ivan Duque similarly announced that all flights between Colombia and the UK will be suspended, starting on Monday. Travelers who have been to the UK in the last 14 days will also have to self-quarantine upon entering Colombia, Duque told reporters. 
  • Czech Republic: The Czech government is halting flights from the UK as of 6 a.m. ET Monday in reaction to the new variant of the coronavirus in the UK, a government statement said early Monday.
  • El Salvador: El Salvador bans anyone entering the country from UK and South Africa.
  • Estonia: The government of Estonia announced a suspension of air traffic between Estonia and the UK on Sunday, which goes into effect at midnight until the end of the year. 
  • France: French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a 48-hour ban on the movement of people from the UK to France starting Sunday night and applying to all methods of transport.
  • Germany: The German government said it is planning to restrict travel to and from the UK and South Africa because of the new coronavirus variant. 
  • Hong Kong: Hong Kong will ban all passengers who stayed in the United Kingdom for more than two hours in the past 14 days from arriving in the city starting Tuesday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said during a Monday press conference.
  • Iran: Iran announced the suspension of flights to and from the UK for two weeks on Sunday.
  • Israel: Israel’s government bans flights from UK, Denmark and South Africa.
  • Italy: Italy is suspending flights between the country and the United Kingdom due to the new Covid-19 variant identified in England, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio announced on Sunday. 
  • Kuwait: Kuwait suspended flights arriving from the United Kingdom starting Monday.  
  • Latvia: Latvia has suspended travel to and from the UK from December 21 to January 1, the Latvian Ministry of Transportation announced in a statement on Sunday. 
  • Lithuania: Fights from the UK will be suspended, Teh prime Minister tweeted. 
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg has temporarily suspended flights from the UK after a new variant of coronavirus was found there, according to a government statement Sunday. 
  • Netherlands: The Netherlands will ban all passenger flights coming from the United Kingdom. 
  • Republic of Ireland: The Republic of Ireland is banning flights from Britain on Monday and Tuesday, the government announced Sunday.  
  • Peru: Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti announced a two-week ban on flights arriving from Europe in a national address Monday morning. Sagasti also banned foreigners from coming to Peru if they have been in the United Kingdom for the last two weeks.
  • Sweden: Sweden banning travel from the UK, the country’s Foreign Minister said on Sunday. 
  • Turkey: Turkey has banned flights from the UK, South Africa, the Netherlands and Denmark, the country’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported late Sunday.  

The following countries have not banned travel but are imposing restrictions:

  • Greece: Greece will impose a 7-day quarantine to all travelers arriving from the United Kingdom starting Monday over concerns about the new Covid-19 variant identified in the UK, the Greek Civil Protection department announced Sunday.  
  • Portugal: Portugal has imposed restrictions on flights from UK. Only Portuguese nationals will be allowed to travel, and they must have a negative Covid-19 test, according to the country’s Interior Minister.  
  • Spain: Spain announced it is reinforcing airports to verify PCR tests for people arriving from the UK, according to a tweet from the government on Sunday.

Walter Reed scientists in the US still expect the vaccine will be effective against this new variant, said Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The Walter Reed scientists said they expect to know in the next few days if there's a concern that the coronavirus vaccines might not work against it.